By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH concluded the Southern League Premier campaign and warmed up perfectly for their midweek Portsmouth Senior Cup final with an away victory in Somerset, beating Yate Town two-one at the South West Interiors Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Under sunny skies it was a win that Shaun Gale’s team deserved overall as they dominated the proceedings, although it did take an eighty-eighth minute winner from Matt Paterson to seal another 3 points following a narrow win over Salisbury on Easter Monday.
The opening minutes saw Gosport dominate possession against the Bluebirds with Rory Williams and Harvey Kavanagh constantly causing problems down either side against a narrow defence; both wing backs delivering dangerous crosses that didn’t trouble an organised tight backline that was brilliantly marshalled by the tall centre-back Matt Bower. The first chance came as an inswinging cross from Williams found a rising Dan Wooden who headed just wide with a flicked effort on eleven minutes, whilst Matt Casey drove a shot harmlessly over the crossbar from 25 yards moments later following good possession down the right side.
However Yate were growing into the game and created two quickfire changes against the run of play; the first coming as Sam Kamara ran through midfield to set up Olly Mehew, whose low curling shot beat Fynn Talley’s far post for a goal kick. On 23 minutes Rudi McKinnon, making his first start for the Bluebirds, floated a cross into Luke Hopper who was beaten to the ball by a Luke Hallett interception. Down the other end Gosport saw Bradley Tarbuck fire over the bar on a counter attack as play passed the half hour goalless.
A series of home corners came to nothing as Gosport looked to prevent any openings, top-scorer James Harding going close with an angled effort on the turn collecting Joe Tumelty’s pass. But with the first half seemingly drifting to a goalless end the last attack in stoppage time ended in a goal for the visitors; Williams advancing down the wing and playing a brilliant cross to find the onrushing Harvey Rew who headed past home keeper Andy Hannah into the top corner as the referee blew for the interval shortly afterwards.
Proceedings failed to spark upon the restart with both sides having spells of possession but no end product, with the managers using substitutes to fresh up legs around the hour mark. From this point it livened up as Williams saw a header wide after bullying his marker in the penalty area linking up with Wooden and Joe Hall firing wide for the hosts just seconds after coming onto the pitch with Gosport further absorbing any threats to goal including crosses and set pieces until the sixty-sixth minute when the home side equalised at 1-1.
It came as a fine through ball reached Mehew in space behind the away defence and the Yate striker made no mistake in rounding Talley, before walking the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Hallett backtracking. It was an equaliser that was harsh on the visitors as it disrupted their play, Gosport nearly falling behind when Bower headed wide an in-swinging corner as defenders switched off on 73 minutes. But thankfully the visitors regained their composure in possession as they sought to get a late winner with hopeful efforts from Kavanagh and Rew not testing Hannah between the home sticks with ten minutes left.
And with sixty seconds left of normal time Gosport took the lead as substitute Aston Leigh fired towards goal with a shot that was parried by Hannah, the ball falling kindly into the path of Paterson who could simply tap into the unguarded net from close range. The game wasn’t over with that winner though as Billie Busari burst through inside the area only to be halted by a foul; the linesman giving a penalty and the perfect chance to seal a 3-1 victory. However Hannah performed a great stop down to his left to prevent Paterson from twelve yards, this missed opportunity not punished by Yate as the final whistle was blown after 4 minutes added on.
Two narrow victories and six points since last Saturday’s defeat against Chesham United mean Shaun Gale’s side finish ninth in the table to hold Poole Town down in tenth; seeing nineteen wins, 9 draws and fourteen defeats from their allocated 40 matches this season. But despite the mid table position and mixed form costing play-off hopes, Gosport can still end the campaign with silverware as they play Moneyfields on Wednesday evening in the Portsmouth Senior Cup final. This cup match will be hosted at PMC Stadium, the home of Wessex League Premier side Baffins Milton Rovers, with a 7:45pm kick-off under the floodlights.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Gosport striker fires goal-wards in tight encounter versus Somerset-based Yate Town on Saturday, winning two-one with late winner to end their league campaign on a final high.