Borough nick late Met Police stalemate

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH scored a dramatic late equaliser as they drew three-all versus the Met Police on Saturday afternoon, trailing three times before nicking a point at the death to continue their improving unbeaten run of three games since they lost to Hayes & Yeading ten days ago. Joshua Huggins was the hero for Gosport as he scored in the third minute of additional time to cap a fine comeback from Shaun Gale’s side, who were delighted at gaining something from this brilliant encounter of non-league football.

On a dry but overcast afternoon at Imber Court the visitors started brightly and saw their opening chance in the fifth minute; Dan Wooden seeing his shot from a wide angle saved down low by Met Police goalkeeper Liam Breech whilst Ryan Woodford saw a header over from a corner shortly afterwards. Down the other end the hosts were looking dangerous on the counter attack with Liam Ferdinand and Jack Mazzone being threats, the latter opening the scoring after 16 minutes when he fired a shot past Fynn Talley in the Gosport goal.

And this lead was nearly doubled on 22 minutes when right-back William Wickham found space down the wing; playing a brilliant cross into the box that was headed wide by David Titov at the back post. In contrast Gosport saw some good possession but were unable to break through a stubborn home defence led by captain Oliver Robinson, leaving Billie Busari and Wooden isolated up front with attacks fairly limited despite an effort from Harvey Rew drifting wide just before the half hour mark.

Met Police then saw a series of half chances in the final fifteen minutes before half time, with Oliver Knight’s effort saved by Talley between the away sticks and Rudy Allen firing over the bar when well placed. They saw their best chance as Ferdinand broke through on 41 minutes and fired wide from an angle, too much space being left behind given the hosts’ superb passing range. Gosport’s best attacking options came from Mason Walsh and Bradley Tarbuck as they saw many crosses into the box, but were unable to create further chances in a frustrating opening 45 minutes.

Although Met Police started the second half with a couple of half-chances, Gosport seemed to be gaining extra space in attacking areas and nearly took full advantage as Tarbuck hit the post in the 52nd minute after a great through ball. But the visitors weren’t rueing this missed chance as they equalised just moments later after Tarbuck hit the side netting, Busari finding the ball under control and beat a defender with footwork before calmly slotting under Beach in the home goal. In response Mazzone fired wide from an angle just before the hour mark and Ferdinand saw his low effort saved by Talley down low.

Following another spell of Gosport possession in which they couldn’t convert, Met Police took the lead as great work from Knight down the left wing was bundled home by a sliding Jasper Mather whose shot nestled into the bottom corner to make it 2-1. The hosts nearly made it three-one on 75 minutes when Johnathan Hippolyte saw a header from six yards flick the side netting, a let-off that forced Gosport to bring AJ Harris Sealy off the bench. And the midfielder made an immediate impact as he added a second equaliser for Borough, cutting inside the left and launching a low effort into the bottom corner on 84 minutes.

Just moments later Met Police retook the lead for the third time as an attacker was fouled in the penalty area, the officials awarding a spot kick despite loud protests. Up stepped Mazzone whose effort from twelve yards beat Talley for power despite diving the right way, sparking celebrations amongst the home contingent. But Gosport didn’t roll over in defeat and scored their third goal of the afternoon as Huggins headed home at the back post to seal the point. And this could have been all three for Borough with the last kick of the match as Harris-Sealy smashed the crossbar with his powerful effort, the final whistle blowing seconds later.

Despite this hard fought and credible point against second place opponents, Gosport have fallen to eighth in the Southern League Premier after 29 games played so far and other results on Saturday afternoon. Shaun Gale’s men will now play Hendon away from home on Tuesday in the league, a game already postponed twice this campaign, before playing top of the table Farnborough next Saturday at Privett Park. Matches against Hayes & Yeading, Truro City and Beaconsfield Town then complete the month of February as the season reaches its climax with Shaun Gale’s side hoping to reach the play-offs with a strong run of form.

PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Gosport attacker looks to head home a cross as they draw three-all versus Met Police on Saturday afternoon with three equalisers against the title chasers