By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH concluded their pre-season preparations on Saturday afternoon with a comfortable victory over Fareham Town, beating the Creeksiders three-nil in a feisty local derby at a warm and breezy Cams Alders. In front of a respectable crowd all three goals came in the second half as Shaun Gale’s men took full advantage of a numerical advantage following an incident involving players and coaching staff, a flashpoint that ultimately turned the match in favour of the Southern League side as the match progressed.
Kicking off at 2pm it was an even start with both sides defending well and preventing any really meaningful attacks on goal, away winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie looking dangerous with pace. This set up the first opening on 18 minutes when his run and cut-back found Danny Hollands who fired wide his first time effort; Fareham responding well with a series of corners that ended with Charlie Cooper curling inches past the top corner from a tight angle just moments later as the ball landed kindly into his path twenty-five yards out from goal.
The Creeksiders continued to press brilliantly and dominated physically in the middle of the pitch, which led to two further chances in quick successive; Simon Woods firing a shot straight at Patrick O’Flaherty and Josh Benfield driving into the side netting from an angle. Down the other end an unnamed Trialist B went close to giving Gosport the lead before Rory Williams headed over a deep-inswinging corner on 31 minutes, before a series of misjudged fouls and building frustration throughout the first half saw a turning point in this ‘friendly’.
A late foul near the coaching dugouts proved to be the tipping point as a mass altercation broke out involving players and staff from both teams; taking at least two minutes for everybody to calm down. In the aftermath the referee showed straight red cards for both Fareham goalkeeper Luke Deacon and captain Gary Moody alongside two members of home staff, whilst also sending off Gosport’s Harry Bradbury. This led to a quieter spell as Dan Bennett was brought onto the pitch as the goalkeeper, the scores staying nil-nil until half time.
Despite Benfield shooting wide of goal with a powerful drive, it was actually Gosport on the front foot as Kyal Williams curving wide of the post from an angle; whilst the same player made no mistake on 50 minutes as he calmly slotted home a similar finish past sub goalkeeper Bennett into the bottom right corner. This lead was nearly doubled by a Rory Williams’ free kick curled over the bar with Bell-Baggie seeing a shot parried before the hour mark, substitutes for both sides signalling a slight lull in proceedings as fresh legs adapted.
The home side were dealt another blow as substitute Marvin Rogers broke in behind the defence and looked towards goal with a pacey run, which was halted by a last ditch tackle by a defender with very loud appeals turned down by the referee on 68 minutes. This slowed down Fareham momentum as the visitors sought to double the lead; Bell-Baggie seeing two opportunities denied by Bennett between the home sticks before Matt Patterson fired wide with a volley from the penalty spot after outstanding passing work down the wing.
Gosport’s pressure told after 74 minutes as they did double the advantage, Hollands finding space within the penalty area following some good footwork and slotting home a calm angled finish into the bottom left corner across the despairing dive of Bennett. And just 10 minutes later Patterson made it three-nil to end the game as a contest, calmly collecting a loose bouncing ball and lashing home a calm low finish into the left; which proved to be the final notable action despite Fareham winning a series of set pieces that came to nothing.
This local derby ends a long pre-season period for both sides as they look forward to home league games over the next seven days, Fareham hosting AFC Stoneham on Tuesday night at Cams Alders in the Wessex Premier Division (7:45pm kick off) before their first FA Cup encounter next Saturday. In contrast Gosport will face a longer wait as they don’t open their Southern League campaign until next Saturday, where they will host Merthyr Town at Privett Park with a large crowd expected for the big match scheduled to start at 3pm.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Players tangle in pre-season clash as red cards tilt game into away favour.