By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH fell to another Southern League defeat on Bank Holiday Monday, losing three-one to fellow Hampshire outfit Hartley Wintney in a local derby defeat at Privett Park. In front of a packed crowd Shaun Gale’s men were punished by clinical finishing as Jordan Edwards sealed a hat-trick to seal a welcome victory; the hosts never looking likely to get a result despite home comforts and ended up losing in a poor display to add to their loss versus Wimborne .
Hartley Wintney came out firing and took the lead after just sixty seconds; a long diagonal pass finding Jordan Edwards in space in the penalty area. Although the winger’s angled effort was saved by Albert White, it trickled over the goalline despite the best efforts of home defenders. In response Dan Wooden dragged wide from 25 yards and Theo Lewis headed straight at away keeper Lewis Hoy whilst Matt Casey further saw his header cleared off the line during a lively first fifteen minutes.
Following a scrappy spell Hartley Wintney saw two quickfire opportunities either side of a wasted set piece on 22 minutes. Good interplay saw the ball reach ex-Gosport striker Sam Argent who curled an effort wide under pressure, before the dangerous Kingsley Eshun fed Leo Hamblin down the left side whose shot from an angle was caught comfortably by White. Down the other end Mason Walsh ran down the right and cut inside, forcing Hoy into a simple save with his legs just before the half-hour.
Hartley Wintney continued to look good in attacking positions and saw Reece Whylie curl over from range, whilst Edwards saw an attempted lob from 40 yards gathered from the backtracking White in the thirty-eighth minute with other options available. Gosport however saw the final chance before the break when Harvey Rew’s cross caused a spell of pinball in the penalty area, with referee Lewis Sandoe denying loud penalty shouts for handball amongst the large crowd of 642 inside Privett Park.
After an effort by Adam Allen cleared the crossbar for Hartley Wintney, Gosport had their best opportunity to equalise in the 49th minute as Wash broke forward on the counter attack down the right wing. The winger’s low cross was missed by Wooden but found the onrushing Rory Williams who fired harmlessly over from ten yards with an angled effort. On 54 minutes Edwards found himself through on goal but took too long to shoot, allowing Casey to produce a brilliant tackle; before Eshun fired over on the hour mark.
Billie Busari and Ryan Pennery came onto the pitch as Gosport seemed to have more urgency on the ball, but were unable to convert this into clear cut chances. In contrast the visitors were looking very composed and nearly made it two-nil on 64 minutes as Allen headed over a free-kick, but they kept a steady control on proceedings and reaped their reward with 23 minutes left. Joshua Huggins’ foul on Eshu allowed Edwards to curl home in the corner from 20 yards to double Harley Wintney’s lead and his own tally.
It soon became 3-0 as Hartley Wintney broke forward with Eshun’s pace; the winger finding Edwards at the back post to seal his hat-trick with seven minutes left. The visitors then saw Matt Drage drag a shot wide in their last chance as Gosport dominated the final exchanges; Pennery going down inside the box to spark scuffles and Wooden headed over a corner. A consolation goal finally arrived on 87 minutes when Busari fired home a low finish to score his first Gosport goal; but it was too little, too late as the referee ended proceedings after five minutes stoppage time.
Despite two successive defeats either side of Christmas, Gosport still remain in the play-off places in the table after 23 games played this campaign. But Shaun Gale’s side don’t have their fate in control as teams around them saw games cancelled due to weather and Covid-19 issues, with results likely to mean that Gosport are overtaken in the standings as the season continues. In the meantime however they face a local trip across to Salisbury on New Year’s Day before a home clash versus Walton Casuals on January 8, hoping to end a streak that has seen them win just once in their last eight league games since mid-November.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Both sides scramble for a loose ball wearing away kits for their league game, participating in Shelter’s “No-Home’ initiative to tackle homelessness