Apologetic Borough face punch-up penalties

Report and photograph by Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH FC have released a media statement offering apologies for “unedifying” scenes at their home game against Salisbury last weekend.

But the expressions of regret are unlikely to make any difference to the outcome, with the referee’s report already submitted to the FA as both clubs await their fates.

Saturday’s unsavoury scenes unfolded following Ryan Woodford’s tackle on Salisbury player Sam Ashton in front of the away dugout at Privett Park. It led to a mass altercation lasting 10 minutes between players and staff from both sides that spilt into the tunnel area.
It is understood the clubs could see huge ramifications, although both are waiting to learn  what they might be charged with.
Borough are currently filing a ‘pre-charge’ letter with the FA. It has to be submitted by Thursday night and any decision on potential punishments will be announced after that.
On Monday morning Gosport’s media team released an official  statement that read: “The club would like to apologise unreservedly for the unedifying scenes witnessed at Saturday’s FA Trophy fixture. Regardless of passion or provocation there’s always need for restraint and that collective discipline was absent in many.

“We would like to record the highest praise for our club stewards who behaved faultlessly in their duty of care in difficult circumstances. In recognition of the need to promote humility rather than exoneration we will be making a collective charitable donation to a suitable cause. We thank you all for your continued support and acknowledge in return our responsibility to show the best of who we are.”

Alongside potential punishments for both clubs,  bans and other penalties could be imposed on individuals in the fracas. Woodford has been given a three-match ban for his part which saw him sent off, meaning he won’t return to the pitch until late November. His counterpart, Darren Mullings, is expected to receive a similar suspension, but neither Salisbury nor the FA have made any announcement in relation to that as yet.

Shawn Gale is also set to receive a lengthy ban from the side-lines as the Gosport manager, having entered the field of play and engaged in a stand-off with Salisbury players. He was sent off by referee Ben Duffill on the hour mark as tempers flared. Being one of three reds, Gale was forced to spend the last 30 minutes in the stands.

And finally club chairman Iain McInnes is also facing punishment by authorities, having entered the dugout in a desperate attempt to calm the tensions. His pitch-side presence, though, had an opposite effect, enraging Salisbury’s management and leading to supporters trying to break over railings to confront away players.

Despite the chaos, Gosport and Salisbury were able to finish the game, the visitors winning 2-1 following first half goals to knock Borough out of the FA Trophy. The two sides are currently scheduled to play each other again in the Southern Premier League on New Year’s Day 2022. In the meantime, third placed Borough will be playing Beaconsfield on Saturday afternoon as they return to home league action.

PICTURED: Tunnel area at Privett Park where part of the altercations took place on Saturday afternoon