08:30PM, Thursday 27 January 2022
Derek Sweetman found it difficult to adequately sum up his varying emotions after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to derby rivals Burnham.
There was disappointment, obviously, at losing a close, entertaining, game and seeing his side slip back to the bottom of the Combined Counties Premier Division North.
But there was also pride at the spirit and character shown by the boys in maroon and green to drag their way back into the game having gifted their hosts a 2-0 head start.
Just as they were in their 1-0 win over Virginia Water the previous week, Port made a slow, sloppy and error-strewn start to the game at the 1878 Stadium and the hosts, playing with extra impetus under new boss Ben Murray, took full advantage. Nasar Bakare scored twice in the opening 15 minutes and the Blues might easily have had more. Their second goal divided opinion, with Bakare moving the frame of the goal after appearing to slide home Firas Chniba’s cross. Many thought the referee would disallow the goal because of this, but it stood, and Port had a mountain to climb.
That they managed it says a lot about the spirit of Sweetman’s side, and goals from Kickie Dzimba and Tobi Shoyoye in the second half deservedly brought them back on level terms, however, just when it seemed they might pull off an unlikely victory, Burnham snatched back the initiative with Dwayne Clarke scoring a wonderful winner.
“The first 15/20 minutes we should have been brushed aside and we were fortunate that we weren’t,” he said.
“But we got back into the game before half-time and should have scored from one of three headers we had.
“Second half we came out and started as we should have done in the first.
“We’ve been telling Tobi (Shoyoye) to hold the ball up like that and be a nuisance, to roll defenders like that and that’s exactly what he did for his goal.
“I’m proud of them and the second half performance they gave us. I don’t think there were too many people inside the stadium who didn’t enjoy it.Once we got it back to 2-2, I wondered if we should ease off, but we didn’t today, we kept at it.
“I’m not going to lie; their third goal was a hell of a goal. It came from a good build up and he’s bent it into the far corner. Sometimes you’ve just got to applaud a goal like that.”
Sweetman said afterwards that he believed the Blues second goal shouldn’t have stood, but also admitted the home side were deserving of their two-goal advantage.
“The boys have told me that they’ve looked at the rules on the FA website and, if an object is moved such as the goalposts, it should be a free-kick.
“So, we feel the goal should have stood. Before the game the officials should have checked that the goals are solid and can’t be moved and they obviously didn’t do that.
“But first 20 minutes, they deserved that little bit of luck because we were nowhere.”
He added: “We said at half-time, we can’t start slowly, we’ve got to hit them early doors,” said Sweetman.
“I’m proud of the effort, quality and workrate we’ve shown in the second half and if we play like that week in and week out, we’ll be fine. It was a good derby game, and I’m gutted we got beat but we put in a performance today and that’s important.”
Port will look to bounce back at home to St Panteleimon on Saturday.
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