FOLLOWING the drama of Saturday afternoon at Privett Park, Gosport returned to away Southern League action for the first time since October 2020 as they travelled to Walton Casuals for a midweek encounter under the lights.
But ultimately Borough returned back to Hampshire pointless after a narrow and cagey match at the Elmbridge Sports Hub, losing one-nil after 90 minutes thanks to a second half goal from Adam Liddle sealing three points for the home side.
With Gosport fielding a makeshift back four with Harvey Rew at left-back and Josh Huggins in the centre of defence, it seemed that their tactics were to play Walton on the counter attack and absorb the pressure. But the home side were determined to keep the ball and thought they had scored an early goal on eight minutes through Akers, but his bundled effort at the far-post was deemed offside by the linesman.
This was a warning shot that Gosport, to their credit, did prevent from happening again as they piled men into semi-defensive areas and keep Walton Casuals away from goal with relative ease, although some long range efforts from both Daniel Filtzpatrick and captain Shaun McAulery went close before the half hour mark as they looked for a reward after their early dominance.
Borough had done really well to limit Casuals throughout the first half and created their only half chance after 37 minutes that they should have arguably converted. Brilliant play including an one-two between Rew and Bradley Tarbuck linked up down the left; with the latter’s floated cross was narrowly missed the head of Dan Wooden and was cleared away to safety by defender Abdul Osman. This was the final notable action of the half as both sides went into the break with the scores goalless and everything to play for.
Perhaps after encouragement by manager Steve Conroy, the Casuals started to zip the ball along the 3-G surface and took an arguably deserved lead after 49 minutes. Zidan Akers fed pacey winger Daniel Rowe down the left, who put in an inswinging delivery into the corridor of uncertainty that was converted by the onrushing Adam Liddle past keeper Albert White with a side-footed finish. It was a well-crafted goal that sent the majority of the 248 spectators into large cheers around the ground.
Gosport used the goal to reset their approach as they seemingly sent out to clinch an equaliser on the night. This was shown on 57 minutes when the experienced Matt Briggs found Wooden through on goal, but the striker saw his low-driven angled shot was saved by Casuals keeper Jacob Adams at the near post. Substitutions for both sides meant a slight lull around the hour mark, but the visitors seemed to reignite the spark with approximately 20 minutes left.
Bradley Tarbuck found space down the left as he picked up the ball, driving forward and switched the pass over the top to the right finding Pat Suraci. The tricky winger cut inside on the edge of the penalty area and fired towards goal, but the effort was tipped over the crossbar as the away fans held their breath in hopes of celebration. Unfortunately the resulting set piece was easily divertd to safety by the stubborn home defenders, with frustration of Boro’ showing as both Dan Wooden
The final chance for Gosport saw Suraci break down the wing and floated a cross onto the chest of Theo Lewis who was open inside the penalty. Although the midfielder’s touch was brilliant, the shot on a half volley lacked power and was saved fairly comfortably by the Casual stopper down low at the far post on 78 minutes. Down the other end substitute Mitchal Gough headed wide from a Walton corner, just minutes before Joshua Lelan fired wide under pressure from eighteen yards with three left to play.
Unlike Saturday afternoon there was no late drama or joy for Gosport Borough, who were suffocated by the home good game management tactics to seal their victory alongside a second straight clean sheet this season. Walton Casuals will now hope they can maintain their good start as they host Truro City on Saturday afternoon, sitting In seventh place before kick-off.
For Gosport they have another chance to pick up a much needed away victory as they travel to high flying and unbeaten Weston-Super-Mare on Saturday afternoon with a 3pm kick off at the Optima Stadium. The Boro’ will then host Chesham United at Privett Park on August 28 before a trip to Hartley Wintney two days later on Bank Holiday Monday (30/08).
Photo taken on October 15, 2019