By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH clinched just their second victory of pre-season as they travelled across to local side Horndean on Saturday afternoon; beating their newly-promoted Isthmian League Division One opponents three-one after a tough fought ninety minutes played under constant drizzle, ever-darkening skies, and windy gusts at a busy Five Heads Park.
The visitors started quickly and took an early lead within two minutes as an inswinging corner deflected out to find Rory Williams around twenty yards out; the player firing through a crowd of players into the bottom corner. And this lead was doubled within minutes as a trialist threaded his part through to Dan Wooden who made little mistakes in slotting home.
Horndean responded with a spell of possession down the right wing and won a couple of corners, but failed to turn this into many shots on target despite efforts for Tommy Tierney and Dan Sibley. Down the other end Gosport were looking threatening with Bradley Tarbuck sprinting through on goal but dragged his shot narrowly over with the keeper beaten.
Borough did made it three-nil in the thirty-fifth minute as Zak Willett’s bad pass ruined a promising looking home attack; Danny Hollands advancing forward and finding Harvey Rew who side-footed home from twenty-five yards. This proved to be the last notable chance of the first half as proceedings seemed to drift despite both sides seeing multiple corners.
A heavy downpour during the interval seemed to make passing quicker as Horndean reduced the arrears on fifty-three minutes; Tommy Scutt showing brilliant fast footwork and threading a ball towards Willett who rolled a shot past Callum Smart. It should have been 3-2 minutes later as Harry Jackson floated his cross to the far post and Sibley nodded over.
Substitutions followed across both sides and this signalled a lengthy lull in proceedings as drizzle continued to fall onto the surface, a number of players appearing to slip slightly. But the effort and desire was still apparent as Rafael Ramos created his own attack with eighteen minutes left as he ran through the back-line; seeing his shot evade the left corner.
The final ten minutes of the game saw a chance for either team; Horndean seeing Rudi Blankson place a low shot just wide after good interplay with fellow substitute Jack Breed. But it was Ramos who again provided a spark for the away side as he ran onto Jake Wright’s pass and was denied by ex-Gosport keeper Ellis Grant, before wasting this rebound.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards and sealed a comfortable success for Borough, who now face Worthing away on Tuesday evening (July 25). They will then host Hartley Wintney at the AEI Stadium next Saturday in their “final pre-season tie” before opening their Southern League campaign on August 5, where they are scheduled to host Bracknell.
PICTURED BY MARTYN WHITE: Players battle for loose ball in hard-fought friendly played in wet weather conditions.