Gutsy Portsmouth beaten after almost producing another stunning Hampshire Cup comeback

Dan Murray was part of Pompey's side which face Folland Sports in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Picture: Jason Brown
Dan Murray was part of Pompey's side which face Folland Sports in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Picture: Jason Brown

Never-say-die Pompey couldn’t complete another stunning comeback as they slipped to defeat at Folland Sports.

In the previous round of the Hampshire Senior Cup, they fought back from three goals down with 21 minutes remaining to beat Gosport on penalties in a remarkable game.

At the Arrow Arena on Wednesday night, the youthful Blues appeared to be heading out through a 1-0 defeat after Fabio Manuel netted with a smart finish on 71 minutes.

However, once again gutsy Pompey somehow found a way back, with substitute Harry Clout levelling in the second minute of time added-on to set up a penalty shoot-out.

Unfortunately on this occasion, though, Sam Hudson’s couldn’t build on their dramatic lifeline.

It was the Wessex League Division One side which emerged victorious, winning 5-4 spot-kicks after Conor May’s opening penalty was fired straight at goalkeeper Konrad Szyszko.

Heartbreak for the Blues, who had turned in a much-improved display in the second half, with Maxwell Hurst striking the bar through a backheel and Beau Mullins impressive from left-back.

And it’s Folland who progress to the next stage of a competition in which Pompey reached the quarter-finals last term before eliminated by a Bournemouth XI.

The Blues included Jack Fox and Maxwell Hurst, who have both returned following loans with Baffins Milton Rovers, while under-16s left-back Beau Mullins deputised for the injured Harvey Laidlaw.

Meanwhile, Sam Folarin was absent through Republic of Ireland under-18 duty, consisting of two friendlies in Spain against Belgium, while Koby Mottoh out with an ankle injury.

Pompey had a let-off after three minutes when keeper Oscar Glover came charging outside his box, despite Jack Fox in control of the situation, and hitting his clearance to Ryan Long.

The striker attempted to lob the ball into an empty net, yet the backpedalling keeper managed to catch it high above his head to thwart the risk.

There was another nervy moment in the 28th minute when Kevin Bosaka’s backpass to Glover was short, with the keeper then missing his kick under pressure from Long’s slide challenge.

However, to his credit, Glover then reacted quickly to reach the loose ball ahead of the Folland man, diving on it in front of an open goal.

Pompey were dominating possession, trying to create openings, yet were struggling to put Folland’s keeper under any pressure.

Indeed, they finally caused problems in the 44th minute, when Connor May’s low cross from the right was deflected behind for a corner with Hurst attempting to pounce.

Moments later, Mullins’ free-kick from the right was clawed away at the back post by the keeper as it threatened to find a way into the top corner earning the Blues another corner.

Pompey brought on Cody Howard for Bosaka at the interval, slotting in alongside Fox in the centre of defence.

They started the second half far brighter, with Mullins putting in a dangerous cross from the left and then Hurst firing an effort straight at the keeper.

On 66 minutes, Mullins’ corner from the left found its way to Hurst, whose instinctive backheel from inside the box bounced off the top of the bar and out of play.

Yet it was Folland who broke the deadlock on 71 minutes when a long throw from the right was latched onto by Manuel, who swivelled and fired in an excellent finish to make it 1-0.

Pompey responded with a strong run from Mullins into the box, only for him to be upended, yet referee Oscar Whiting wasn’t interested in giving a penalty.

At the other end, Glover pulled off two smart saves as the hosts went in pursuit of doubling their advantage.

Yet in the second minute of time added-on, substitute Clout lashed in a cross-cum-shot which sailed over the keeper’s head and into the far corner of the net to make it 1-1 in dramatic fashion.

That took the match into penalties, with Bastian Smith replacing Glover, but he couldn’t keep out any of Folland’s penalties, while, crucially, May missed his kick as the hosts triumphed.