Borough win Hartley Wintney encounter

By Connor Steel / Photograph by Tom Phillips

GOSPORT BOROUGH FC recorded their third straight Southern Premier League victory on Bank Holiday Monday, beating North Hampshire based Hartley Wintney 1-0 away at The Memorial Playing Fields.

A late goal from Theo Lewis sealed the three points for the visitors as they ended a successful month with four wins out of five, including three straight clean sheets and second place position going into FA Cup battle this weekend.

In front of 345 spectators, Gosport started the better as they dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes, but were often  guilty of playing crosses that were too deep for the attackers and forced home goalkeeper Thomas Williams into many easy catches in his penalty area. Down the other end, Hartley Wintney had successive  corners that came to nothing, but did have the opening shot on 14 minutes as left-back Thomas Bird found Khalid Simmo whose effort was blocked at source by the Borough defence.

The visitors followed this chance with an even better one as great play saw a pass through to Dan Wooden, who beat one defender as he cut inside and fired towards the corner. But with the goalkeeper beaten his shot bounced off the post and was cleared to safety from Jacques Kpohomouh down the right, before Harvey Rew’s low cross flew past the advancing striker when a touch would surely have resulted in a goal.

Although Nicky Dembele saw his low shot saved by the home goalkeeper, Hartley Wintney had the better of the last 20 minutes before half time. Borough goalkeeper Albert White was alert to tip Joshua Webb’s effort round the post before Ben Wright fired a free kick harmlessly over the crossbar from 25 yards on 33 minutes. Their final opportunity came on the stroke of the interval as Thomas Bird fired wide from an angle following great work by Simmo down the left side; but it was goal-less at the break with the game still up for grabs at the break.

It was an extremely slow start in the second half as both sides cancelled each other out, with few clear-cut or notable chances until the 62nd minute. This opportunity fell the way of Borough who almost capitalised on a rare home error as Bradley Tarbuck shot towards goal, but the attacker’s effort flew just wide of the far post from 18 yards. Minutes later, Pat Suraci curled a tame effort into the hands of Williams in the Hartley Wintney goal, before changes made for a quieter spell before the drama really began.

Hartley Wintney won a free-kick on the 72nd minute that was taken by Thomas Bird, which landed safely at the feet of Gosport’s Elliot Wheeler via a deflection. On the counter attack the defender played a brilliant cross-field pass from the right that was collected by Pat Suraci, who twisted and turned as he advanced towards goal. The tricky winger then floated a cross to the back post where Theo Lewis headed the ball into the top left corner to give Borough a late lead.

The response from the home side was positive and saw them create a series of half chances, which firstly began with an effort by Simmo being saved by visiting keeper White as his left side. With 10 minutes left, a flicked header from Kpohomouh was caught by the shot-stopper, whilst Jordan Edwards fired wide under pressure from Gosport defenders. Hartley Wintney didn’t give up and further had a succession of set piece opportunities, but lacked the incisive delivery to test an organised Borough defence as the game drifted to its conclusion.

There was to be one last chance as Gosport nearly doubled their lead on 89 minutes as Tarbuck was slid in behind on the break with home defenders pushing forward. The attacker played a ball into the near post where it was met by recent signing Luke Hallett who headed wide with his effort towards goal. The referee blew his whistle shortly after this opportunity to confirm Borough’s win in North Hampshire; ending a local derby that was nowhere near as feisty as expected with no bookings throughout the 90 minutes.

With another three points Gosport now sit second in the Southern League Premier South division after five games; winning four and losing to Walton Casuals back on August 17. Borough have scored nine goals and conceded four in these league games, proving to be solid defensively against strong attacks such as Weston-Super-Mare and Poole FC so far this campaign. For now attention turns to cup action as Privett Park hosts a FA Cup tie versus Plymouth Parkway on September 4, before Winchester City travel to Gosport four days later to play a League Challenge Cup Preliminary Round tie. League action returns on September 11 with Yate Town the visitors to Privett Park as the season continues to take shape on all fronts.