Gosport frustrated by league strugglers

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH FC were frustrated on Wednesday night as they hosted Kings Langley in a Southern League encounter; drawing one-apiece to the division strugglers at a packed Privett Park. Failing to convert their many opportunities and a late penalty mean that Shawn Gale’s men have dropped two further points in their quest to close the gap on leaders Farnborough; two injuries to key players also added to the negatives from an under-par Borough performance after a good start.

Although Kings Langley started brightly in possession with Louis Michel-Yamfam looking particularly dangerous , it was Gosport who took the lead on their first real attack in the seventh minute. Starting from a brilliantly timed tackle from Luke Hallett on halfway, the ball was worked into the feet of Harry Kavanagh down the right; whose inch-perfect cross landed on the head of the advancing Harvey Rew to nod home into the corner.

Borough continued to dominate possession and chances after taking the lead, Dan Wooden heading wide and Bradley Tarbuck clearing the bus with a curling effort in quick succession either side of the twenty minute mark. Shortly afterwards Kavanagh’s cross was met with a glancing header from Wooden that evaded the far post, but it was the visitors who created the next key chance as they nearly clinched an equaliser just before the half hour mark.

Following a corner the visitors broke away at speed with Alfie Williams playing in Florian Kastrati down the right side, Borough keeper Albert White forced into a smart save to deny the leveller down low.  The hosts were also forced into a change on 35 minutes as the injured Nicky Dembele was replaced by Mason Walsh, who immediately made an impact with an incisive pass through to Tarbuck who fired inches wide after cutting in from the right wing.

For all of Gosport’s dominance a one-nil lead is always risky and so this proved as Kings Langley finished the half strongly. On 39 minutes Kyle Connelly broke through in space and dragged an effort wide of White’s far post from an angle, before Rory Williams saw yellow for a foul as he tried to stop a counter attack. This resulting set piece was recycled and the Borough keeper was alert to prevent Will Hoskins’ hooked effort in a last chance before the interval.

Positive play saw Kings Langley create a flurry of half chances as the second half begun with both Yamfam and Hoskins firing wide from range, whilst Connelly saw a driven shot gathered by White on 53 minutes. It wasn’t all one way traffic despite an injury to Rory Williams as he was substituted for Elliott Wheeler as the hosts won a free kick on the hour mark, Tarbuck’s curled attempt from 25 yards saved comfortably by away shot-stopper Alfie Marriot.

Harvey Rew then fired a similar set-piece effort over the crossbar on 67 minutes after Kings Langley made three substitutes, before Borough went even closer as Walsh flashed his angled shot across goal sixty seconds later. Down the other end the visitors saw Kastrati’s long distanced effort drift wide before Connelly headed a fine cross from Williams across the keeper but evading the post at the same time in their sustained attempt for a deserved equaliser.

With twelve minutes left to play Gosport almost made it two-nil with the ball played to Wooden, who beat a defender and shot towards goal; away keeper Marriot saving the effort down low at his near post before gathering quickly to avoid a rebound. Shortly afterwards Hallett saw a powerful drive blocked at source by an away defender, with the visitors ultimately getting rewarded for a good second half of football in the eighty-fourth minute.

A mistake in midfield allowed Jack Wood to advance forward at pace and the attacker was fouled by a Gosport defender, referee Paul Barker pointing to the penalty spot. Up stepped Roddy Collins to send White the wrong way to equalise, sparking celebrations within the away contingent. In response both Kavanagh and Briggs saw long-shots saved by Marriot in stoppage time, with Kings Langley holding on for a deserved stalemate on balance of the ninety minutes.

The point, although a fair result, represents a missed opportunity for second-place Borough against their 19th place opponents; failing to build on recent wins versus Beaconsfield and Merthyr in recent matches. Shawn Gale’s men will hope for an improved performance and indeed result when they travel to the South West for their match against Taunton Town on Saturday afternoon, before making the short trip to Portchester three days later in the Portsmouth Senior Cup.  Gosport’s next match at Privett Park will see them play Swindon Supermarine on November 27 before Wimborne are the visitors on December 1 in a rearranged fixture from late September cancelled due to the fuel crisis.

PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Borough attack is quickly closed out by Kings Langley defenders