Gosport lose key Farnborough derby

By Connor Steel / Photograph by Gosport Borough Media

GOSPORT BOROUGH fell to their second straight Southern League defeat on Tuesday evening, losing 3-1 to second-placed Farnborough in a Hampshire derby at Cherrywood Road.

It was a game in heavy rain that the visitors deserved to lose as Shaun Gale’s men struggled to cope with the strength and finishing of the home side, who saw Paul Hodges score a hat trick to send his side victorious from this top-of-the-table clash.

The opening moments saw Gosport dominate possession on a perfect surface for passing, with Luke Hallett impressing with a series of sharp turns in midfield to create space, but any attack was quickly thwarted by a Farnborough defence under captain Richard Orfu. This gave the hosts a solid platform and on 12 minutes the ball found Josh Fawole in space, with only Ryan Woodford’s block preventing his shot from hitting the corner. Gosport were even luckier just minutes later when right winger Reggie Young smashed the crossbar with a curling effort, keeper Albert White denying the rebound bid by Sam Deering with a fantastic stop from close range.

For all the noteworthy chances going to Farnborough, it was a surprise on 22 minutes when Borough took the lead with their first noteworthy foray forward. A set piece was recycled and played back into the penalty area, where the ball was allowed to bounce around. Left back Rory Williams reacted quickest and popped up to smash home from the six-yard box with home goalkeeper Dante Baptiste beaten, which silenced the majority of the 450-plus crowd.

Harvey Rew was then booked just before the half hour mark whilst Dan Wooden fired wide from an angle on 31 minutes before Farnborough settled play down with a spell of possession and got an equaliser moments later, Gosport’s lead only lasting 12 minutes. A passing move found Hodges in space, the striker turning his marker and firing home a curling effort with venom into the corner  to level the scores. It was a much deserved equaliser and the last notable attack as both sides settled for half time with bad weather continuing to batter the ground.

Gosport started on the front foot in the second half as Wooden got on the end of a cross down the right. But his header was easily held by Baptise at his near post from seven yards out. In the 51st minute a long shot from Bradley Tarbuck drifted wide, with Farnborough taking the lead moments later as they got a reward for their first half dominance. Fawole broke into the box and rounded White who was rushing off his line, the goalkeeper making slight contact with the striker’s legs before going down. The referee gave a penalty which was taken by Hodges, who sent the Gosport keeper the wrong way with a composed finish, celebrating with home fans behind the goal.

Hodges then clinched his hat-trick after a 10-minute period of little goalmouth action, curling into the top corner with a similar finish to his first half equaliser. He showed great footwork to cut past his marker and the finish was excellent, a fine individual goal that killed the game as a contest with 26 minutes left to play. Although both sides had half chances, play settled down again as substitutions began to take effect with Farnborough dominating possession, Gosport struggling and unable to affect the result.

This is despite a final chance on 85 minutes as substitute Nicky Dembele raced through on goal and found Mason Walsh in space, but the youngster’s effort was blocked at source by a Farnborough defence. Wooden then saw his shot saved by Baptiste from range on 89 minutes with the match drawing to a foregone conclusion, the referee blowing his final whistle shortly afterwards following stoppage time to confirm a comfortable home win in front of their jubilant supporters.

For Gosport it was a damaging defeat and their third of the league season to date after 11 games played. They sit third in the Southern League Premier table but don’t face another game until October 23 when they play Truro in Cornwall, with FA Cup ties taking priority for other teams this weekend. Borough’s fixtures will be updated by the end of this week with more information expected to be released by the weekend and three postponed matches and one cup tie to be organised between the clubs / leagues.