By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH failed to extend their winning start to the Southern League Premier South division on Saturday afternoon as they visited Weston-super-Mare away from Privett Park, losing 3-0 in the heat across Somerset as temperatures reached 31.5 degrees Celsius at the Optima Stadium. All of the 3 goals came in a clinical 1st half display from the Seagulls before a quiet second period with the visitors struggling throughout the 90 minutes; a combination of injuries and unavailable 1st team players proving to be an hurdle too much.
On a glorious looking surface despite the heat Weston started brighter and took the lead after eight minutes through their first notable opening, Dayle Grubb laying the ball off to Kieran Thomas who sent his effort flying into the corner past a diving Patrick O’Flaherty in the Gosport goal. And shortly after Abdulai Bell-Baggie had fired wide with a shot from twenty yards, the host doubled their lead after eighteen minutes when an effort hit the crossbar and bounced kindly to the feet of Marlon Jackson who toe-poked home the second home goal.
Gosport attempted to reduce the arrears through efforts by Bell-Baggie who fired straight at Weston keeper Max Harris and Matt Paterson seeing his hooked effort from a deep cross fly harmlessly wide. But despite the chances it was the home side who were looking the likelier to score again and they made it 3-0 after a drinks break, Jacob Jagger-Cane being fed into the box and turned the ball back to find Reuben Reid. The midfielder made no mistake in sidestepping away from Matt Briggs and driving home low into the left corner.
The remaining twelve minutes before the interval were fairly equal with Gosport launching forward a counter attack that ended with Harvey Bradbury firing an angled shot just inches wide of the far post. Down the other end Scott Laird and Grubb both went close for Weston with varying chances before a fantastic opportunity to add a fourth goal arrived in stoppage time; James Dodd finding space before hitting the bar with his powerful daisy cutter effort that looked destined for goal, the referee blowing for the eagerly-awaited break to cool off.
Looking for a response manager Shaun Gale made one substitution with Jake Wright replacing Paterson in midfield, a change that didn’t make an immediate impact as Weston had the first chance after the restart; the ball being played into Jordan Bastin who whistled a curling shot wide after cutting in down the wing. The 53rd minute saw a cross into the home area fell to Danny Hollands whose volley on the turn was saved by Harris, whilst another effort from Bell-Baggie blazed over the bar as Harry Kavanagh’s cross deflected into his path.
In response Weston made a tactical change as they reverted to two well-organised banks of 4 which allowed them to hit Gosport on the counter-attack, another home opportunity arriving on 68 minutes when Scott Laird surged forward but fired the wrong side of the post with space opening up in front of him. A water break and further changes for both sides then signalled a slight lull in proceedings, with the hosts winning multiple deep corners that were well defended with relative ease by a tighter backline not seen in the 1st forty-five minutes.
Gosport were dealt another blow as Matt Briggs pulled up with a groin injury and was replaced by Adam Biss in defence alongside another substitution in Dan Aitken; Weston dominating the possession and killing time as they saw the match’s final chance. It started as Jay Murray was played down the left side by Jagger-Cane and showed tricky footwork inside the area before firing over the crossbar at the far post on 82 minutes, both sides seeming to settle for the outcome as proceedings crawled to an otherwise uneventful end on the coast.
For Weston they have risen to fourth in the Southern League table with four points and now sit in the play-off spots at this early stage, going on to host Yate Town in midweek at the Optima Stadium. In contrast Gosport have fallen back into mid-table with a negative goal-difference and face a tough week in the league, hosting table-toppers Swindon Supermarine on Wednesday night before travelling to Chesham United on Saturday. Games against Plymouth Parkway and Winchester City round off August across the Bank Holiday weekend.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Eyes on the ball as the Seagulls seal their 3-0 win at Weston-super-Mare.