IN THEIR SECOND CLASH of pre-season, Gosport Borough managed to earn a credible draw with National League South side Hungerford Town on Saturday afternoon in their final friendly before their opening league game.
It was a quiet 90 minutes with little clear cut chances at Bulpit Lane, with Borough equalising on the stroke of half time before a goal-less second half despite no lack of effort or intent as both cancelled each other out.
Hungerford made an energetic start to the match with the pacey Sol Wanjau-Smith the main protagonist as they saw the first chance after six minutes. He found Ryan Seager inside the area and fired towards goal, with the shot well saved by a quick reaction from Gosport keeper Ellis Grant. Two corners were then headed wide by Matt Berry-Hargreaves as Hungerford continued to probe with purpose, finally taking a deserved lead after 17 minutes.
A passing move outside the Borough area was cut out inside the 18 yard box and fell to Jake Evans, who seized upon the loose ball and unleashed a half volley just inside the left corner past Ellis Grant. This opening goal then sparked a lull in proceedings as Hungerford did struggle to keep momentum and Gosport were able to have a decent spell of possession but weren’t able to push for an equaliser until the last kick of the first half.
Fine footwork down the left side saw the Hungerford back-off and the ball was played back to Bradley Tarbuck lurking on the edge of the penalty area. The striker’s first time effort flew into the bottom right corner past the despairing dive of Hungerford keeper Luke Cairney to send both teams level at the break. This was a fine finish that drew applause from the away fans behind the goal and was a worthy reward for a strong performance in the first half.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Gosport came out firing after half time and should have scored their second from a corner on 52 minutes. From the set piece a Gosport attacker forced the Hungerford keeper into a brilliant save, with strong appeals that the ball had crossed the goalline before being cleared away. However the referee and linesman turned down the appeals to furious reactions, which seemed to only spark the home side into life as the game ticked towards the hour mark.
However traditional pre-season substitutions and the theme of both sides cancelling each other out prevented too many chances of note; with arguably a drop of intensity as players tried to avoid injury. Gosport had many set pieces but were unable to make them count, whilst also being defensively sound to limit Hungerford to just one chance in the final 22 minutes.
A clever sideways pass by Matt Partridge found the feet of Warren Bentley who broke clear of the last defender. The home attacker rounded Ellis Grant and fired towards goal from an angle, but the covering defender Matt Briggs cleared the ball to safety off the line on eighty minutes as the game drifted towards a draw after 90 minutes of football.
After beating Hungerford by 1-0 at Privett Park in late July, Gosport have managed one win and a draw from two games against their higher league opponents; completing their pre-season programme with just one defeat away at Horndean. Borough will now have six days off the pitch in preparation for next Saturday’s (August 14) home clash versus Poole Town; the tough test at Privett Park opening the new Southern League campaign before travelling to Walton Casuals three days later.
Image: Gosport and Hungerford shake hands after 1-0 home win at Privett Park (July 24 – 3pm)