By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH returned to winning ways in the Southern Premier South and maintained their unbeaten start to the 2023-24 campaign as they travelled to Sholing; easily beating the Boatmen three-nil with a clinical and professional away display watched by a large Bank Holiday Monday ‘gate’ of over five hundred fans at the Imperial Homes Stadium.
Under overcast skies it was Sholing who began quicker as they dominated early possession and saw Jake Hesketh fire harmlessly wide from a set-piece; whilst Gosport then saw their first opening as Harry Kavanagh hit a shot over the bar after nine minutes. Kurtis Cumberbatch further ran forward moments later and set up Alex Barsa who was crowded out.
Bradley Tarbuck went closest to scoring when he broke into space and dragged wide of the far post after linking up well with Barsa, but Gosport weren’t rueing missed opportunities when they broke this deadlock in the 22nd minute. It came as Kavanagh arrived late in the box and cut the ball to find Barsa who calmly tapped into the empty bottom right corner.
Sholing wanted an immediate response and saw a range of chances either side of the half hour as Jake Cope volleyed against the crossbar; Rob Flooks also heading wide and Dan Mason forcing a brilliant stop. But it was actually Gosport who added the “crucial next goal” before the interval through Dan Wooden as he converted from a rare defensive error.
The visitors had full control at half time and this continued after the restart as they sought their third goal; Barsa forcing a diving save from Sholing keeper Ryan Gosney and Charlie Wassmer heading over from a resulting corner. Down the other end Wayne Robinson linked up quickly with the on-rushing Mason, whose effort powered wide from a tight angle.
Borough did score the third and final goal on fifty-seven minutes through a glorious moment of magic from Antonio Diaz as he collected a pass; dancing forward uncontested and curling into the top left corner past a stranded Gosney. And it may have been four-nil just moments later with Wooden firing just inches wide of the right post after quick passing play.
Substitutions then followed for both teams and there was a drop in overall intensity; perhaps due to the hectic weekend schedule and scoreline. Gosport were still in control however and saw Harvey Rew drag an effort wide after neat build-up play on 81 minutes; the last opening of this tie falling for Sholing when Jake Adams was denied by the away keeper.
Pat Suraci and Joe Lea will be delighted after their first six league matches which have seen five wins and one draw so far to leave Gosport in second behind Merthyr Town at the top. They must however turn attention to knockout action as their team travel to Laverstock & Ford on Friday before playing rivals Portsmouth in the Hampshire Senior Cup (06/09).
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Dan Wooden celebrates after netting Gosport’s second goal in front of the ‘home’ fans.