By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH must face Hendon for a second time later in April after their big relegation six-pointer was abandoned after sixty-five minutes at the AEI Stadium; the hard fought encounter halted due to an injury to the linesman with the score goalless and everything at stake at the bottom going into the campaign run-in.
The match went ahead after persistent showers and a pitch inspection early in the morning with a wet boggy surface awaiting both sides; Gosport starting well on the front foot when Dan Wooden narrowly nodded over an inch-perfect delivery from Harry Kavanagh on the wing with home supporters loudly urging them forward.
Hendon then saw some possession but were unable to fully test the home defence despite a low effort from Nico Muir-Merchant that drifted wide; both teams failing to register a single shot on target within the opening twenty twenty minutes as good attacks seemed to break down at the final ball on the evidently tricky surface.
The half hour passed without incident as Billie Busari saw his shot brush the side netting at a very tight angle before the winger narrowly missed a superb crossfield pass from Charlie Wassmer when clean through; Noa Boutin also seeing a shot saved by Hendon keeper Aymen Azaze after quickly cutting back from the left side.
Control then switched towards the visitors before the break as Tom Jackson forced a brilliant diving stop from home keeper Patrick O’Flaherty after steady build-up play, whilst Rohdell Gordon sliced over the crossbar on 43 minutes. A succession of corners were then all cleared away by Gosport as the first half finished goalless.
The home side came out firing upon the restart as Busari dragged wide a low pacey cross from Boutin down the wing before Harvey Rew was unlucky not to head home a whipped delivery by Kavanagh on forty-seven minutes; frustration rising for Hendon when Muir-Merchant was booked for dissent as he blocked a free kick.
But instead of boiling over they used it to their advantage and saw the opening goal chalked off for offside as captain Joseph White nodded home; Daniel Matsuzaka going even closer in a legal attack as his flick header from a corner was hacked off the line by debutant Maxwell Kinsey as the stadium collectively sighed in relief.
Proceedings were swiftly stopped in around the sixty-fifth minute when the linesman on the far side fell down suddenly; seemingly injuring himself when turning on the slippery touchlines. The home physio applied some treatment but this proved unsuccessful as the official slowly hobbled off to loud applause from all supporters.
An announcement was made over the tannoy asking for an qualified referee within the crowd who could take over the lineman’s job, but noone was able to come forward in a designated time period. This sadly gave the referee no choice but to abandon the match after conversations with both managers and individual captains.
No new date has been announced at the time of writing; Gosport losing no ground in the relegation battle as other games were postponed due to the weather. Borough’s next match will see them travel to Tiverton next Saturday (April 8) before hosting rivals Hartley Wintney two days later on Easter Monday in another huge tie.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Hendon attacker is closely marked by Gosport player as two outfits play out goalless but watchable relegation clash at the AEI Stadium, which is ended early after an injury to linesman.