By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH fell to their second successive league defeat as they handed Chesham United a needed play-off boost; conceding two late goals against the Generals in a topsy-turfy encounter at The Meadow on Saturday afternoon. In lovely sunny conditions Shaun Gale’s side recovered from a dreadful start and looked on course to get something from this away trip to Buckingham, only for a late flurry of clinical home attacks to continue their winless streak since beating Merthyr Town in Wales four weeks ago.
Chesham made a simply dream start and took the lead when Ryan Woodford cleared away a long ball for a corner, which was played into the box to find Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick unmarked to nod home after just forty seconds of play. And it could have been two-nil just moments later when a pass found Zak Joesph who fired wide under pressure from Matthew Casey, whilst Bradley Clayton’s cross from the right was comfortably cleared away as the match settled down after a frantic opening spell dominated by the home side.
Looking to overcome Chesham pressure, the visitors created their first chance as the ball reached Ashton Leigh; his speculative effort from twenty yards unable to fully test the goalkeeper Samuel Beasant who gathered with ease. Matt Briggs then had a shot blocked after collecting a floated corner and beat his defender with a fake shot before being charged down; Matt Paterson driving the follow up wide from range. But it was actually Chesham who looked dangerous and hit the post with an effort from Jordan Gibbons breaking through; the assistant linesman giving a reprieve by raising his offside flag on the far side.
Gosport equalised just before the half hour with a fine attacking move that started with Paterson’s fantastic cross-field pass reaching Harry Kavanagh in acres of space; the right-back’s cross-come-shot falling kindly to the lurking Dan Wooden who guided home comfortably from close range. It was a goal that signalled a spell which saw both sides cancel each other out as the match drifted towards the interval; the last chance falling to Chesham as a corner fell to Eoin Casey following a scramble; the defender’s effort just the wrong side of the netting with the home fans prematurely celebrating a second goal in stoppage time.
The second half started slowly with a series of fouls seeing bookings for Kavanagh and Luke Hallett, but this didn’t deter Gosport and they took the lead through the latter on 57 minutes; the Forest Green loanee rising highest above the Chesham defence to head home a corner from Leigh on the right side. In response the hosts saw a succession of set piece opportunities that ultimately came to nothing; the sixty minute mark seeing changes for both sides with league games yet to be played on Easter Monday in a busy weekend.
Seok-Jae Lee, one of the substitutions, looked threatening when he replaced Leigh as he saw his effort drift wide after linking up with Harvey Rew; but Chesham were looking good in attacking positions and got their equaliser on 69 minutes. It came as a midfielder turned on the half-way line and forcing the Gosport defence to retreat, a pass releasing Jaden Thompson-Brissett who cut inside and sent a left-footed curling shot inside the bottom corner to equalise with an empathic finish beating Talley for pace at his near post.
With the game seemingly fizzling out into a creditable draw, Chesham sparked into life as a short spell of possession reached Thompson-Brissett on the edge of the box in the 83rd minute; who calmly took one touch before firing his second goal as he slotted into the corner with a powerful drive. And the hosts made sure of their three points five minute later as space opened up; allowing Jordan Edwards to be fed through beating the offside trap before rounding Talley and slotting into the unguarded net in the final notable action.
The victory means Chesham have leapfrogged Weston-super-Mare into the play-off places with two games left to play; Gosport staying in ninth after their recent poor run as they cannot finish higher in the Southern League Premier. Shaun Gale’s side will now play local rivals Salisbury City on Easter Monday at Privett Park before concluding their league season versus Yate Town next Saturday afternoon; players hoping to impress with the Portsmouth Senior Cup final versus Moneyfields provisionally set for April 27 at the PMC Stadium.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Bradley Tarbuck holds off Chesham defender during August 2021 encounter between the two sides at Privett Park; the Generals avenging their three-nil defeat almost eight months later.