PORTLAND United moved a step closer to the Velocity Wessex League Premier Division play-offs with a fine 2-1 win at Hamble Club.

Coupled with losses for Laverstock & Ford and Baffins, Portland have strengthened their position in sixth place.

Portland must win all their remaining games and hope Baffins, who trail them by five points with two games in hand, slip up.

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Hamble began well against Portland as Matthew Casey and Clayd Roach both tested their accuracy from range, while Nicholas Yeomans hooked wide after Portland failed to clear a corner.

The Blues retaliated on the 30-minute mark when Jack Delves put Josh Camp through, only for home keeper Henry Newman to parry his effort.

But Hamble deservedly took the lead when Roach nodded James Johnson’s pinpoint cross home at the back post.

Greg Borthwick volleyed a rebound wide for the Blues but Portland would find the perfect response with two goals before half-time.

Josh Williams and Joe Wickham combined on the right and the latter’s searching cross picked out Delves at the back stick to volley beyond Newman for 1-1.

And on the cusp of half-time Portland had turned the match on its head when Williams was brought down in the box, allowing Borthwick to step up and slot beyond Newman from the spot.

With the second half more of a backs-to-the-wall job for Portland, the islanders were indebted to some superb defending from Crit Clarke with an amazing recovery tackle.

Portland’s one major chance was repelled by Newman as Wickham’s laser-like cross set up Brin Doyle.

Portland did have to defend bravely to withstand crosses into the box late on, but the Blues dug in to claim a precious three points.

Manager Kyle Critchell told Echosport: “It was a very gritty performance. We weren’t at our best but that’s credit to Hamble.

“We managed to win the game and it shows the maturity of the side.

“It’s a sign of a fit, resilient side. We scored two good goals.

“One was dubious but we’ve been on the end of some difficult decisions this season so it’s nice to get one on our side.”

Portland visit Fareham Town tomorrow in their seventh consecutive away trip (7.45pm).

Critchell added: “Being completely transparent it’s going to be very difficult. Due to the late rearrangement of the fixture, we’re having to travel earlier.

“We’re going to have players missing. They’re doing their best to make themselves available but we’re going to really need a backs-to-the-wall performance.

“We’re going to have to try and figure out who’s available and take it from there.

“It’s going to be a real squad effort with regards to any result we are able to get.”

Player-assistant Jamie Symes and Joe Wickham miss out, with Connor Bent, Max Buckler and Crit Clarke all doubts with work commitments.

Blues: Bruton, Bessant, Stuttle (Clarke 65), Buckler (Harvey 60), Symes, Callow, Wickham, Williams, Borthwick (Doyle 60), Camp, Delves (Coombs 75). Sub not used: Gadsby.