By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH will face a midweek ‘replay’ in the FA Cup Third Qualifying Round after enduring late heartache against higher league Welling United on Saturday afternoon; the National League South side scoring an ninety-seventh minute equaliser to burst hopes of an unforgettable cupset for over a thousand supporters at a boisterous AEI Stadium.
Both teams began patiently under sunny skies with Welling creating the first notable opening after just eight minutes; a recycled corner reaching Jack Burchell who sliced wide before this attack was halted due to offside. Tristian Abrahams then headed over a deeper cross by Crossley Lema with the home defence struggling, whilst Jepthe Tanga drove over.
These pressures finally told after twenty-two minutes as the visitors broke the deadlock through Kain Adom; the centre midfielder collecting a fine ball and curling a powerful rocket past home keeper Toby Steward from range. And the goal stunned the hosts as they almost let frustration overwhelm them; Zak Sharp and Kurtis Cumberbatch seeing bookings.
Things settled down after the half hour as Gosport enjoyed spells of possession and this helped them push forward as Bradley Tarbuck volleyed into the ground on 37 minutes; the bounces proving ‘beneficial’ for keeper Ben Winterbottom. The home side were further lucky to be one-nil behind at the interval as Abrahams ran though on goal but blasted wide.
Borough responded brilliantly upon the restart and equalised within eighty seconds as a deep ball was pumped into the path of Rafa Ramos, who guided his effort over the advancing keeper inside the far left corner. And the hosts were also handed another boost as Adom was shown his marching orders after a scuffle with Charlie Wassmer just minutes later.
Welling were shocked at these two setbacks and appeared nervous in possession as Gosport swarmed their back-line; which led to their second goal on fifty-four minutes. It came as Ramos stole the ball of a defender and crossed into Dan Wooden; the striker flicking up into the air off his chest and slamming home into the corner to spark a loud joyful scene.
Substitutions signalled a break in play before Welling controlled the last 15 minutes; Abrahams and Dominic Oduganya going close alongside many penalty appeals that were turned down. Gosport seemed to be absorbing the very nervous pressure and closing in on victory, but were dealt the ultimate blow in added time when Abrahams slotted home for 2-2.
A replay has been organised for Wednesday evening at the ‘J Hearnden Skip Hire Community Stadium’ with a place in the fourth qualifying round at stake; an arguably unwelcome match in an already hectic run of games. Gosport will then play two home matches in four days from October 7; hosting Salisbury in the FA Trophy before entertaining Dorchester.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Away players celebrate netting the first half opener before having to settle for a replay.