By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH FC continued their very inconsistent start to the 2022-23 Southern League Premier South campaign as they fell to a second away defeat on Saturday afternoon, suffering a frustratingly narrow two-one loss against Chesham United at The Meadow. And Shaun Gale’s young side will be rueing a critical two-goal second half comeback from the hosts as they led at the interval following a lengthy injury stoppage, whilst Harvey Bradbury saw a red card for dissent in the final minutes with anger boiling over for the visitors.
In windy but dry Buckinghamshire conditions it was Chesham who settled the quicker during the opening 10 minutes, a sliding Karl Oliyide narrowly missing a cross from Brad Clayton following good interplay down the right wing. Another half chance came for Jeanmal Prosper on nine minutes as he headed over a deep corner under pressure from Matt Briggs, whilst Dan Wooden slashed wide down the other end as neither side really tested the opposition goalkeepers despite good moves that were ended by poor passing or solid defending.
A potential turning point arrived on thirty-three minutes when Chesham captain Roderick Collins landed very awkwardly on the ground whilst challenging for a header, leading to loud shouts of pain and a seven minute stoppage for treatment before the player was stretchered off the pitch. This did seem to spark the hosts into life as they saw the first meaningful attacks of the game as Olivide’s driven effort was deflected over the bar, whilst away keeper Patrick O’Flaherty tipped Clayton’s long-ranged shot just inches wide in the 43rd minute.
In response Gosport had their first attempt on target as Wooden swivelled away at pace from his defensive marker inside the penalty area but could only fire straight at Sam Beasant in the Chesham goal from twelve yards. But in the last minute of nine added on for stoppages the visitors took the lead in scrappy fashion as a long ball found Bradbury through on goal, his shot eventually falling kindly into the path of a lurking Wooden who made no mistake in converting from close range to give the visitors a narrow one-nil lead at the interval.
The second half started in a slow but feisty fashion with the first opening falling to Harvey Rew who dragged over a shot from a tight angle; whilst an off-the ball incident saw all of Rory Williams, Harry Jewitt-White, and Clayton shown yellow cards by the referee after a scuffle. Again this seemed to spark the hosts into life with a spell of good possession for Chesham who equalised just after the hour mark, a deep cross from the right was only half cleared with a scuffed tackle and Zak Joseph found the bottom corner with a composed finish.
Chesham continued to build pressure on the away defence and created two huge chances to take their lead, O’Flaherty pulling off two excellent saves to deny both Clayton and Ricardo German in quick succession with the resulting set-pieces well defended by a stubborn Gosport backline. But the Generals did complete the full comeback when a cross was headed goal-wards and was denied by the away keeper with a smart low save, only for the ball to ricochet back to the back post where German was lurking to simply tap home into the net.
Responding to their setback Gosport made a change as Andreas Robinson returned and he almost made an impact within minutes of the second goal on seventy-eight minutes; firing over after brilliant pacey work from Abdulai Bell-Baggie down the right. Williams then saw a curling free kick shot saved by Beasant while Harry Kavanagh had a shot agonisingly cleared off the line in the last minute as frustrations rose. And it boiled over in a sour end as Bradbury was dismissed for comments to the assistant referee, killing off any away dreams.
With two home victories and two away defeats from their four games so far, Gosport sit in mid table on goal difference below teams like Merthyr Town and Salisbury City; alongside losing ground on the play-offs at this early stage of the season. They will now face a seven day break before returning to Privett Park on Saturday for a ‘Battle of the Ports’ encounter with Plymouth Parkway, before travelling to Winchester two days later on August 29; their first FA Cup opponents for September 3 set to be announced on Monday (22/08) lunchtime.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Gosport player holds off the challenges with Chesham defenders in narrow away Buckinghamshire loss for Shaun Gale’s team, continuing a very inconsistent start to the new season.