First Win in the AYL
Three points with dogged performance
Last week's postponement of the Mangotsfield game left us with a second successive away game against early league leaders Yate United. We were wary of our opponents as they had already won 3 games in a row scoring 18 goals in the process, plus we were without 2 of our starting forwards through injury. A shake up in formation was going to be needed and we decided to place Emmanuel in a central striking role with Joel on the left and Cody on the right. Liam moved back into the centre of defence and took the captaincy for the day. He was partnered there by Harry with Flynn and Max playing at full back respectively. Toby was a familiar face in goal and Kyran and Olly took up their regular centre midfield roles with Dex anchoring and Josh taking up a role on the bench. The whole team were looking sharp in the new official Portishead Town kit even if it did feel a little strange leaving the Juniors days behind us!
The game started off pretty even with Yate threatening their quick centre forward, but Liam and Harry were marshalling the back line well. Liam was also linking up well with Flynn down the right and we had some early success with the ball down that side getting forward. Cody's touch and hold up play was impressive as we made some gains into the Yate half. A through ball down that channel saw Emmanuel beat the Yate keeper to the ball outside of the penalty box and his lobbed effort looked like it was sailing comfortably into the empty net, but it spun at the last minute to miss by inches. However it was from that channel where our opening goal arrived. Flynn had time and space as he approached the half way line on the right. His well measured through ball found Emmanuel in a straight race with the Yate defence and as he got to the ball first, he angled a deft shot into the bottom corner to open the scoring for us. A free kick later on from the right had side was drifted in perfectly by Liam and met by Emmanuel's head, but into the arms of the grateful of the Yate keeper.
Yate were not taking this lying down and they fought hard. Our midfield was working hard with Kyran, Olly and Dex getting through a lot of work and similarly Max was keeping Yate's right hand side pretty quiet. Whenever we were beaten, we always had Toby alert off his line and he made a number of quick and well timed saves and clearances. We got to half time at 1-0 up.
The half time talked of the need to keep it tight at the back and to not give Yate any encouragement. Josh came on for Dex and went wide left, Joel came in to the defensive midfield role to help out. In truth the second half was not great and we faced a lot of pressure down the Yate right hand side. A number of saves and last ditch tackles kept Yate at bay (remembering they were averaging 6 per game before this). Whilst we fought up to the other end of the pitch we were not looking likely to add to our tally, but then we had two consecutive corners. Nothing came from the first, but Kyran's second corner was drifted across deliciously and Emmanuel rose above the others to bundle the ball over the line with his chest and/or head. Harry was on the line to make sure, but he assured us all it was Emmanuel's goal - his second and ours and this seemed to deflate the Yate players. They were still asking us questions, but we were digging in for victory now. Emmanuel went back to partner Liam, Harry sat and Joel pushed on. Flynn had to come off injured, so Dex came back on as a left winger. We had the opportunity for a final chance but Joel's shot dragged past the right post. As the game played out it seemed that Liam or Emmanuel or Harry or Max or Toby always seemed to be in the right place. A superb last minute tackle by Kyran was the last action of note as the game finished 2-0 to Portishead.
Overall some great resilience was shown and we made the most of our limited opportunities. It was not pretty but effective - we can be more expansive in future weeks with a more familiar line up.
Man of the Match: Harry Selwyn - A close call along with Liam, but the pair of them were strong in defence and ensured that we secured our first clean sheet of the season.