Holyport recorded a third win in their last six Combined Counties League Premier North outings to move off the bottom of the division thanks to a late goal from Ashley Hunt, his fourth in five starts for the Port, which earned a deserved three points against fellow strugglers Virginia Water.
Derek Sweetman gave a debut to former Maidenhead United Academy graduate Ben Mulley, now playing his football with Slough Town’s Under 23s, but it was a current Maidenhead prospect Kickie Dzimba who had the first of a string of chances wasted by the hosts at Summerleaze. The wiry teenager turned cleverly in the area but his shot was blocked by Luke Wynn-Lintern in goal for The Waters. The Port dominated play and had a gilt-edged chance come and go after another debutant – Festus Lori – saw his curling free-kick come back off the face of the crossbar. The ball rebounded kindly for the onrushing Hunt who contrived to head over the top of a gaping goal.
Further chances came and went before the break as Jack Woodridge nodded wide from a Port corner before Dzimba lifted a cross from skipper Dan Rapley over the top. The second half became a very scrappy affair, unsurprisingly so given the importance of the game to both sides. Were it not for Fred Chapman in the home goal the visitors would have led after Joe McBride nodded the ball down into the path of Turnell Sinclair who saw his shot smothered. Turnell led a counterattack which resulted in a rushed effort going well wide whilst at the other end The Port had a number of set pieces from which they were agonisingly close to finding the net.
Just as a goalless draw seemed likely, the home side scored with three minutes remaining. A corner was nudged towards goal and with the away side unable to clear Hunt drilled a low first time shot into the corner to break Water. Even then the Stag Meadow side could have salvaged a point at the death when Chapman pushed a goal-bound close-range header over the top. The final whistled sounded shortly afterwards to the jubilation of all connected with the North Maidenhead based outfit.
Assistant manager Sam Lock beamed afterwards as his side – who won just one of their opening fifteen league matches this season – started 2022 off in the best possible style. “We will do absolutely everything possible to stay in this league. We have been putting in some great performances, more of the same needed.”
Port make will make the short trip north of the Thames for another important-looking fixture at struggling Burnham next weekend whilst The Water will host improving Tadley Calleva.