Gosport complete hard-fought Walton comeback

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH completed another brilliant come-back as they recovered from two goals behind versus Walton & Hersham on Saturday afternoon; eventually drawing two-all after a highly watchable top of the table game at the AEI Stadium that ended with both outfits extending their unbeaten starts to this season despite losing their ‘perfect’ records.

Under warm skies it was the visitors who saw the first chance after nine minutes; John Gilbert finding a pocket of space and forcing Gosport keeper Toby Steward into a smart save before Trae Cook-Appiah drove over the rebound. Play did then settle down into a holding pattern with both sides looking sloppy; Edward Simon firing just wide on fifteen minutes.

Borough responded well to this pressure when Harry Kavanagh’s whipped cross was headed over by Rafa Ramos and Jonathan Efedje sliced into the side netting. But the hosts were rueing missed openings on twenty minutes when Cook-Appiah broke down the left side and appeared to be fouled; Harry Mills calmly converting this penalty inside the corner.

Home frustrations appeared to push their players forward as they sought the immediate leveller with away keeper Liam Allen denying Ramos at close range; Dan Wooden heading over this resulting corner after thirty minutes. There were a couple of other chances for Gosport before half time as Ramos hooked over and Wooden had his shot caught by Allen.

Although Walton dominated possession, it was Gosport who should have equalised on 54 minutes from an outswinging corner; the ball falling to Wooden whose effort blasted the crossbar from six yards. Instead the visiting side doubled the lead sixty seconds later as Joe Hicks threaded through Stanley Flaherty, who drifted forward and easily finessed home.

Borough still threatened however and halved their arrears just before the hour as a cross was only partially cleared; the ball landing for Wooden who jinxed his way past a defender before tapping home. Down the other end Simon looked to add a third for the visitors as he ran through on goal at pace; Steward parrying his drive as substitutions signalled a lull.

The high energy approach soon returned with Antonio Diaz and Danny Hollands both squandered their half chances as Charlie Wassmer then nodded wide; Wooden narrowly missing a cross by Kavanagh on 89 minutes. But this sparked a comedic moment as Walton misjudged a quick passing move and conceded an ‘own goal’; which led to an ironic cheer.

The stalemate was confirmed after a long period of stoppage time and was perhaps the correct result on the balance of play; Gosport staying second in the standings behind leaders Merthyr Town after five games. They are now due to play Sholing in their second Bank Holiday tie on Monday afternoon before facing Laverstock & Ford in a FA Cup 1QR game.

PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Walton & Hersham celebrate netting their 1st half penalty in front of huge home crowd.