By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH extended their brilliant start to the 2023/24 league campaign as they hosted early play-off rivals Hungerford Town on Saturday afternoon; thrashing their opponents four-nil with a ‘scintillating’ performance watched by over eight hundred supporters despite the unseasonal September temperature of over ’27 degrees’ at the AEI Stadium.
It only took eight minutes to break the deadlock for Gosport as they hit the away defenders on a lighting counter attack; Alex Barsa whipping a cross that was mishit into the corner by Dan Wooden off the post. Hungerford did push for a fast leveller with David Tarpey somehow screwing wide from ten yards and Mitchell Elias Fernandes rocketing the crossbar.
And the visitors were soon rueing missed opportunities as Borough doubled the advantage in the 22nd minute in highly controversial circumstances; Harvey Rew’s cross seemingly flicking the hand of Wooden before he fired home. It could have been three-nil just after the half hour when Alex Barsa forced a diving stop from Ryan Clarke after a magical turn.
Hungerford were feeling frustrated after the second goal and there was a period of niggly fouls across both sides; Rew and Wooden needing treatment with the latter being substituted with Jonathon Efedje. But in truth these two stoppages signalled a lull that lasted throughout the seven minutes of additional time, despite Conor McDonagh slicing yards over.
The visitors came out firing after the interval and put Gosport under sustained pressure; the official denying all appeals for a penalty as a shot looked t0 hit two defenders on the hand. And it seemed that Hungerford weren’t due any luck on fifty-two minutes as they had a goal rightly ruled out for offside; Elias Fernandes moving too quick as he stroked home.
Borough used this escape as fresh impetus to attack and reaped their rewards when a corner was recycled to find Rew near the flag; the midfielder curling a cross and it bounced through the crowd into the left corner for three-nil. The hosts were in dreamland on 69 minutes as they added their fourth; Cody Jordan hooking home from Harry Kavanagh’s cross.
Substitutions for both outfits and a scheduled “water break” seemed to slow proceedings going into the last 20 minutes; this match already over as a meaningful contest and a hectic week awaiting the two sides. But it was Hungerford whom looked likelier to score themselves a consolation goal; Slavi Spasov and Ellis Watts seeing 2 late chances to little avail.
This was arguably the best home performance to date under Pat Suraci and Joe Lea’s team, who move to 2nd position behind ‘leaders’ Chesham United after Saturday’s results. Another big league match in midweek will see Gosport travel west to Poole Town on Tuesday night, before returning to the AEI Stadium next Saturday to play Cribbs (FA Cup 2QR).
PICTURED BY JEFF YOUD PHOTOGRAPHY: Players from both teams try to attack Hungerford corner in the first half.