TEAM SOLENT visited Dorset to face Portland, the team they’d defeated at the semi-final stage before going on to win the Wessex League Cup last season. With usual keeper Banda away in Gibraltar, the keeping gloves were, once again, handed to manager James (The Cat) Taylor. It was a breezy evening but otherwise a mild one – conditions at this exposed venue can be much more unpleasant!
Portland’s Tom Richardson tried an early effort from the left that bounced all the way through and off the far post, whilst a Jesse Waller-Lassen free-kick for Solent went over the wall but wide. Solent went ahead with a most sublime goal from their captain and talisman Waller-Lassen. Receiving the ball on the left, he jinked his way into the box, near to the dead-ball line and turned his marker inside-out at least three times and managed to open a sufficient angle to shoot low into the far corner past a startled home keeper; how he scores goals with such chutzpa is absolutely bewildering and the fair-minded locals watching were very impressed.
Matt Sheedy came close following a Solent move involving Waller-Lassen, Curtis Thorn, Jim Orvis and Lewis Pitts. Portland looked to hit back but Orvis forced Richardson to shoot wide and Adeoye Olumuyiwa got in a great tackle as L Clarke tried to force his way into the box. Waller-Lassen put in Adekunle for Solent but his shot was just off target. Portland levelled right on the half-time whistle when the ball was played in low from the left and wasn’t cleared by the Solent defence in the middle and it ran through to Crit Clarke who had an open chance at the far post to fire past an exposed Cat.
Tyrell Mitford had a chance saved early in the second half but Portland had the better of it from there. Cat made saves to deny Clarke twice, getting down low to push the ball round the post and then pushing another onto the bar. The Solent keeper also did well to claw away a Ryan McKechnie header following a corner.
Portland were looking the more likely but Olumuyiwa, in partnership with Patrick Nolan in the Solent defence, played well, getting in some fine blocking tackles and read the game well to break down some dangerous raids. Solent attacks were occasional and Waller-Lassen had a late shot at goal but Sean Lillington saved. FT: 1-1 and it now goes straight to penalties.
The Solent kicks were well put away whilst Darren Watts drove his wide and Ross Carmichael’s went over for United. Solent went through ‘on pens’ for the second successive round. They continue to have an interest in four competitions moving into Christmas – could it possibly be a happy New Year to come?