Romsey Men’s 1st XI 1 – 3 City of Portsmouth Men’s 1st XI

Romsey hosted Portsmouth in the final round of fixtures before the winter break and despite having excellent opportunities in the match to claim all three points, the Abbey side came away with nothing after a naive second half display.

Portsmouth began the stronger side and eventually the pressure told on the scoreboard as a cross fired from just off the baseline inside the area got lost underneath the goalkeeper’s pads and ended up in the back of the goal during the ensuing scramble.

Romsey struggled to string any sort of passing game together in the opening quarter but recovered well in the remainder of the half to seize the initiative back from the visitors. They won four penalty corners and drew level from one of these chances as Joe Welch launched a trademark dragflick past the opposition stopper.

There was a sour note however as striker Martin Simpson-Scott was hit at close range by a fiercely struck ball, leaving him with a broken knee and facing surgery.

Unhappy with some of the decision making, Portsmouth got into an ongoing battle with the umpires which cost them three yellow cards for dissent, including a period in the second half when they were reduced to nine men.

Romsey largely squandered this golden opportunity to claim victory by playing route one hockey and failing to manoeuvre the packed defence around to create holes to attack. Lewis Birch had Romsey’s best chance when he fashioned a good space directly in front of goal but the normally deadly striker shanked his shot comfortably wide from 12 metres.

To compound these errors, Romsey were then guilty of overcommitting high up the pitch when the visitors returned to full strength and this proved costly when Portsmouth sliced right through the hosts, starting with a free hit in their own area and ending with a two-on-one being smashed into the far corner.

With only minutes remaining the home side had to pile forward in search of an equaliser, but were instead again caught cold by a counterattack, this time conceding a penalty stroke which was efficiently converted. The result leaves Romsey in a Regional 2 basement battle, two points above the bottom trio of teams.

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