By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH were frustrated yet again on Saturday afternoon as they were held to a goalless stalemate versus Southern League South strugglers Kings Langley, seemingly blowing their final realistic chance of reaching the play-offs in sunny conditions away at the Orbital Fasteners Stadium. But in truth neither side deserved to win in this drab and disappointing encounter that was void of much goalmouth action at either end with both defences on top in Hertfordshire.
On a dry but bumpy surface it was a slow start for both sides with neither side maintaining any control on proceedings, Gosport regularly losing possession in promising areas and Kings Langley lacking the attacking intent to take full advantage of these away errors. The first chance came in the eighteenth minute as the visitors broke down the right with Harry Kavanagh’s deep cross meeting a rising Dan Wooden, who misjudged the delivery and the ball bounced off his shoulder wide of goal.
Down the other end Kings Langley had their opening opportunity just six minutes later as good work reached Harrison Crawford on the edge of the box, who turned inside his marker to move onto his stronger foot and firing towards goal; Gosport goalkeeper Fynn Talley diving well to his left to gather at his near post. In response the visitors had a spell of possession working the ball across the pitch, but were unable to find space behind the home defence as the clock passed the half-hour mark.
This pattern of play continued with Kings Langley denying any space with their players seemingly winning the second balls; giving them the platform to attack with more freedom in the final minutes before the interval. Jamie Jellis was in particular looking dangerous with his pacey dribbling runs at the away backline and his shot from range flew harmlessly over on 43 minutes, whilst Alfie Williams saw an effort brilliantly saved by Talley in stoppage time before the referee blew his whistle for the break.
Gosport came out after the restart with more intensity and nearly took the lead within sixty seconds as Harvey Rew went on a lung-busting run that helped him beat two defenders, his pass finding Rory Williams whose cross evaded everybody in the penalty area. Undeterred they went close on fifty two minutes when Bradley Tarbuck curled one wide after being threaded through, whilst Williams’ rising cross went over moments later; Kings Langley also seeing Erin Amu drive wide just before the hour.
Matt Paterson was brought off the bench as Shaun Gale made attacking substitutions, which nearly had an immediate impact as he met Williams’ corner with a near post header on 64 minutes; the ball beating home goalkeeper Alfie Marriott but was cleared off the line by Sam Dreyer to safety. Sixty seconds later Wooden flashed wide of the post with an ambitious effort whilst a spinning ball was dropped by Talley in the away penalty area down the other end; a volleyed piledriver from Crawford missing the target in a let off.
Substitutions for Kings Langley seemed to turn the match with twenty minutes left to play as they looked the more likely to snatch the winner, dominating possession and seeing two quickfire efforts from the ever-present Jellis saved by Talley between the away sticks. Edu Toiny-Pendred had a final chance for the hosts on 83 minutes as he dragged wide, whilst an acrobatic overhead kick by Ryan Woodward at a corner was blocked at source as the match fizzled out to its conclusion after stoppage time.
Combining this draw with other results on Saturday afternoon, Gosport have fallen to ninth in the table with just four games left to play this campaign; needing a major miracle to reach the play-offs with the margin of eight points now almost mathematically impossible to recover. With their planned senior cup final versus Moneyfields postponed, Shaun Gale’s team will have a week off before they host Weston-Super-Mare at Privett Park next Saturday afternoon; whilst tough games away against Chesham United and home versus Salisbury will follow over the long Easter weekend before the season ends with a trip to Yate Town.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Ryan Woodford attempts an acrobatic attempt from a corner in frustrating nil-nil draw at Kings Langley on Saturday afternoon; ending lingering play-off hopes for Borough.