By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH tumbled further into a dangerous relegation battle on Saturday afternoon as they fell to a narrow defeat away in Gloucestershire, losing five-four versus Yate Town following a nine-goal thriller at Lodge Road. But despite their thirteenth defeat so far in the Southern League this was a bright performance from Ben Kneller’s team as they scored goals at regular intervals throughout the ninety minutes; but seemed to be constantly catching up with the home side showing their clinical nature across two devastating periods.
The visitors made a lightening start under grey skies as they scored within twenty-seven seconds of kick off; Dan Wooden rising quickest to power home past Yate goalkeeper Martin Horsell from Rory William’s deeper cross. But the hosts were level twelve minutes later after a period of good possession as Alex Lambert found Kyle Tooze in space with a long delivery and the striker made no errors in chesting his bouncing cross under control before firing into the bottom corner for one-all; Dennis Digie driving wide from 25 yards seconds later.
Yate were soon ahead on nineteen minutes as steady build-up play reached Ben McLean in tight pockets of space and the midfielder advanced forward, unleashing a brilliant sliding effort that beat Gosport goalkeeper Albert White as it nestled into the far corner for 2-1. This lead was extended just eighty seconds later from a simply outstanding solo effort by Zak Drew as he collected a pass and dribbled past 4 defenders on his way towards the penalty area; creating enough space for a side-footed shot that went low into the left of the goal.
Proceedings settled down either side of the 30-minute mark as Gosport tried to push forward in the final third but were frustrated by niggly fouls from Yate players; the hosts seeing both Tyler Ashmead and Digie booked in quick succession. And the hosts were guilty of a big defensive mistake that allowed their visitors to reduce arrears in stoppage time when an awful backpass was intercepted by the pressing Brett Williams; the striker rounding a stranded goalkeeper and tapping home from twelve yards to conclude an engrossing first period.
It was a shaky start to the second period with both outfits having spells of possession but lacking the clinical pass following a breathless opening half, although Gosport saw a succession of dangerous crosses cleared away by Yate. But there was nothing home defenders could have done to prevent a brilliant equaliser for the visitors on sixty two minutes as Brett Williams sent his powerful volley spinning inside the left corner for 3-3; a fine goal that was followed by a booking for White as he handballed whilst sliding outside the penalty area.
To their credit Yate responded brilliantly to being pegged back and immediately retook the lead within three minutes through Tooze, who cut inside and hit a driven shot that bounced off a wet surface to beat White to make it four-three. A free kick was then fired over the crossbar by Gosport before a fifth goal arrived for the hosts with twenty left to play; Drew seizing full advantage of an under-hit backwards header as he rounded White and made no mistake in calmly slotting home inside the unguarded netting from the tightest of angles.
Substitutions soon followed for both teams as Toby Raison was booked for a misjudged midfield foul, Harvey Rew replacing Harry Kavanagh for the visitors along with Kyal Williams. These changes made an immediate impact as Gosport reduced the arrears at five-four after 78 minutes, Bradley Tarbuck cutting his pass back to Kyal Williams who bundled home into the corner. And despite a final opportunity from Bell-Baggie who saw a shot trickle inches wide of the post, four goals wasn’t enough to get a result as Yate held on for all the points.
Yet another defeat means Borough have slipped to third from bottom in the Southern League after playing 19 matches so far, with five wins and one draw alongside thirteen losses. Their last league success was back in early October when they beat North Leigh two-nil at Privett Park under previous manager Shaun Gale, whilst Kneller has only seen one victory from their Portsmouth Senior Cup encounter against Locks Heath; a streak that the club hope to end next Saturday when they host Tiverton in a lunchtime match kicking off at 12:30pm.