Forget Portsmouth’s FA Cup tie with Wycombe Wanderers, there was only football match worth talking about going on in the city yesterday. Eastney’s Furze Lane played host to the second annual Southsea Alternative Choir vs Victorious Festival charity football match. Money raised at the match went towards children’s charity Cystic Fibrosis Kids – CFK.
The previous tie between the two sides ended in a 4-1 win to the Victorious Festival team, although the match was much closer than the scoreline suggests. The managers Stuart Scott (The Choir) and Ben Miles (Victorious) have both brought strong squads so picking a winner before kick-off was tough!
The game exploded into life when Victorious went 1-0 after Tom Benfield rose unmarked to head in. Clearly this was the worst possible start for the Choir, however they had plenty of time to get themselves back into the match. They set about doing so well, they had the lion’s share of the ball and were passing it around quickly and confidently.
The Choir went into the break scratching their heads as to why they weren’t level or even ahead. Victorious had their goalkeeper Ian Leighfield to thank for helping them go into half time 1-0 up.
The second half began with some controversy when the referee (me!) was checking he’d started his watch for the second half but while doing so appeared to miss a foul by Lewis Darvil in the build up to Victorious scoring their second goal which was scored by Zak Winning.
In the minutes after the goal the game became quite feisty with a few strong challenges going in. After the players received a quick reminder of why we were there both sides calmed down and quickly regained their composure.
The Choir had no thoughts of giving up hope that they’d get back into the match as Trevor Toghill and Luke Grice lead the fightback in midfield. Victorious captain Lee Carter and Toghill were having a great battle in centre midfield but Victorious were finding it hard to get out of their half for large parts of the second half and seemed content to play on the break. They were in no mood to allow The Choir back into the game without a fight, they dug deep and were patient with their defending and on the occasions The Choir were able to get through then Leighfield was there to make the big saves.
Lewis Darvil was constantly causing problems for The Choir on the break but Sam Richards was there at the back to mop up the Victorious attacks.
Victorious went 3-0 up after they were able to dissect The Choir’s defence with a fantastic through ball that must have travelled about 20-25 yards and gone through about three players. It was that man Tom Benfield again who was on hand to slot the ball passed the goalkeeper.
The Choir were offered the chance to get back into the game from the penalty spot after a handball in the box by one of the Victorious defenders. That man Ian Leighfield came to the rescue and saved superbly from Ben Rowe’s powerful strike. The Choir did eventually get the goal that their pressure deserved when Mark Johnson neatly finished from close range.
For the following fifteen minutes The Choir continued to put pressure on the Victorious defence with Andrew Weir and Mark Johnson looking dangerous. Weir had a goal from close range ruled out for offside and Charlie Waddington went close when the ball came out to him on the edge of the box but sadly he was only able to fire over the bar. There were shouts for penalties at both ends but the game eventually finished 3-1 to Victorious.
I’ll be honest I have no idea how the score finished the way it did. The Choir will be kicking themselves for not winning this game however much credit for the win must go to the man of the match Ian Leighfield who commanded his defence well and pulled off a string of saves to thwart The Choir.
It was great to see so many turn up and support the lads as it must have been pretty cold stood there on the sidelines. I was unable to attend the post match celebrations at Little Johnny Russells although from what I hear it was a great night. I’m sure that there are going to be a lot of sore heads and aching legs this morning!
Once they have recovered both sides will be back to work and both have a couple of events going on in the run up to Christmas which might be of interest?
Unlike previous Christmases The Choir will not be taking part in a mini-tour of Southsea pubs, instead, they will be performing a special one-off gig at The Wedgewood Rooms on Albert Road. The gig will take place on Saturday 17th December with tickets priced at a mere £10. You can get your hands on them from www.wedgewood-rooms.co.uk or can be purchased from the venue’s box office on Albert Road. This event WILL sell out so don’t leave it too late in the hope you’ll pick them up at door on the night as you will be disappointed!
The team behind Victorious are taking over the Guildhall for the Portsmouth Beer Festival Christmas Sessions which will take place the same weekend on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th December. Tickets are just £10.50 and include a souvenir glass, program and beer token (booking fees apply). Tickets available at pompeybeerfestival.co.uk and Meat and Barrel and Little Johnny Russells. If you would like to know more then check out our preview article here.