By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH failed to net for a fourth successive league match at Privett Park as they succumbed to a goalless draw against rivals Salisbury on Saturday afternoon; extending their recent winless streak to six games in all competitions since beating North Leigh in mid-February. But in truth this highly anticipated derby was uninspiring and low quality for most of the ninety minutes despite attacking desire across both sides; the point proving more valuable to the hosts as they continue to maintain a point buffer over the relegation spots.
Under drizzly skies it was a pacey start with Gosport creating the first opportunity after eight minutes when a ball was fed into Dan Wooden; the striker cutting back onto his stronger left foot and seeing a powerful effort safely cleared out for an unnoteworthy corner delivery before Brett Williams nodded inches over the bar from Harry Kavanagh’s deep cross moments later. In their response Salisbury saw their own opening when Calvin Brooks advanced down the flank and floated a good cross to Samuel Roberts who volleyed just over the bar.
Unfortunately an injury stoppage and enforced substitution disrupted this early attacking momentum from the teams with Gosport having the next opportunity after twenty-one minutes; Bradley Tarbuck’s curling set-piece missing the far posts with Salisbury goalkeeper Gerald Benfield rooted to the spot. But frustration seemed to build as Gosport cheaply gave the ball away in promising areas as Salisbury looked dangerous on the break; Danny Hollands seeing yellow for a late tackle on Brooks with both sides warned about their strong reaction.
Weathering the storm Salisbury began to settle the proceedings and arguably dominated the final 15 minutes before half time; the home side continuing to play sloppy or overhit passes and helped the visitors create two big chances. Their first opening saw a good delivery by Lucas Tomlinson land at the feet of Daniel Fitchett on thirty-seven minutes and the midfielder lashed over on the half volley; Devon Arnold going much closer as he collected a direct pass through the middle but saw a low attempt saved by the out-rushing Patrick O’Flaherty.
Harvey Rew replaced George Hunt at the interval and this seemed to solidify the midfield for Gosport as they moved the ball quicker; which nearly paid dividends when Kavanagh swung a delivery in the path of Wooden whose effort from an angle bounced off the post. The intensity further saw Tarbuck drag his skidding shot just inches wide of the near post after fifty-five minutes with Benfield diving low to cover his right stick; the visiting strikers racing forward on the counter with Brandon Goodship slicing high and wide from thirty five yards out.
Determined to avoid a repeat of the first half Borough regained their momentum despite multiple tackles from both sides and another cross led to the next opportunity on sixty-six minutes; Wooden hitting his driven effort wide of the target after beating defenders on the spin. Billie Busari then created space for his rocket that was brilliantly saved by Benfield as Bouwe Bosma quickly cleared the dangers; the Salisbury goalkeeper reacting well to also deny Tarbuck’s shot from point blank range as the winger was found unmarked on the back stick.
A spell of interruptions then followed with both sides committing silly fouls and a small scuffle did break out at a Salisbury free-kick; the referee reacting well to calm it all down before he displayed yellow to Rory Williams and Seung Yang. Salisbury saw an angled drive from Goodship fly wide of the post on seventy-eight minutes before Gosport had a series of non-threatening corners defended well by the away defence; this mostly low-quality encounter summed up when Matt Briggs was brought off the bench for the final forty seconds of play.
Other results from Saturday mean that Borough sit four points above the drop zone with eight matches left to play this campaign; although some key relegation rivals do have games in hand going into the final stretch. A clean sheet will be a positive following leaky results with two crucial league ties to play across this next week as they travel to Swindon Supermarine on 15/03 and host Hanwell Town next Saturday. Massive relegation 6 pointers then follow with a trip to Harrow Borough and a home match against Hendon before April Fools Day.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Ball bounces away from a midfield challenge as Gosport fail to score for 4th successive home match; drawing a blank against Weston-super-Mare, Truro City, Met Police, and Salisbury.