Borough starlets progress to final in Pompey success

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH progressed to the Portsmouth Senior Cup Final for a second time in three years as they played Portsmouth Academy on Thursday evening; their young side narrowly sealing a narrow one-nil success after this nervy but energetic local match watched by a ‘good crowd’ of 351 supporters at the AEI Stadium bathed in glorious sunshine.

The home team began well and had their first chance in the eighth minute when Kian Towse broke forward at pace; his low pass finding Bobby Tudway who fired over the bar from the angle. This was followed by an attempt from Max Blake as he advanced towards the box and rode two challenges before setting himself for a shot, which drifted high off target.

Ethan Jones then fired his fine effort straight at the Pompey goalkeeper and Jack Bagnell was arguably ‘unlucky’ not to score with a flicked attempt on 23 minutes as Borough continued their early dominance. But the visitors did slowly work themselves into the proceedings as Destiny Ojo had a powerful header parried away safely by James Engelan-Jenson.

Portsmouth Academy became bouyed by the brilliant opportunity and had a number of threatening set-pieces that were cleared by the home back-line, who stood firm despite a header from Harvey Laidlaw brushing the bar. They went even closer when Connor May turned sharply on the edge of the box and drilled just wide; the first half soon ending goalless.

Proceedings restarted slowly with both teams cancelling each other out in a midfield battle; Pompey slightly dominating the ball but were unable to penetrate the brilliant home defence. And even when they did through Harry Clout as he did well to collect a floated pass; the Gosport shot-stopper Engelan-Jenson denying this quick attacker with the flying save.

Both Jayden Keteku and substitute striker Tayo Singeaa furthermore saw smart stops from the home goalkeeper whilst a header was blocked off the ‘goalline’ by Finley Walsh-Smith on sixty-seven minutes. An injury stoppage then followed and this appeared to help stem the away momentum; the hosts seeing Towse flash a low ball short of Jones soon after.

The ultimate winner arrived for Gosport on seventy-eight minutes as Blake collected a good pass and drilled the angled shot inside the bottom right corner for one-nil; sparking massive cheers in the ground. And the hosts did hold on for the outstanding victory after a stubborn rearguard action by the defence featuring headers / blocks across the last minutes.

Borough will now play Royal Navy FC in the final next Wednesday evening (May 15), which will be held at the home of Baffins Milton Rovers with a 7.45pm. This will prove to be their last game of 2023-24 as the team have withdrawn from the Russell Cotes Competition due to a number of issues for the club; including the fees of renewing playing contracts.

PICTURED BY M&J PHOTOGRAPHY: Gosport midfielder attempts to win ball from Pompey player on the halfway line.