By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH began their recovery from a disappointing month of September as they hosted North Leigh on Saturday afternoon, winning 2-0 thanks to two second half goals watched by a crowd touching 700 fans at Privett Park. But Shaun Gale’s team were given a tough examination throughout the even first half in dry and occasionally sunny conditions, whilst a more controlled performance after the break saw them clinch all three points on offer; their first Southern League victory since beating Winchester City back in late August.
It took two minutes for Gosport to have an opening as Billie Busari was found by Andreas Robinson in space and went down under a challenge from away defender Aaron McCreadie in the box with loud appeals turned down by the referee; North Leigh responding as Lance Williams saw a low effort blocked at source following good interplay after a cagey opening 10 minutes. Moments later Dan Wooden narrowly missed a deep cross from Kyal Williams whilst home keeper Nick Harvey tipped wide a shot from Jordan Alves in the 15th minute.
The eighteenth minute saw another chance for Gosport as Matt Briggs recycled a corner and found Williams in space, the winger’s shot drifting harmlessly over the crossbar whilst Danny Hollands saw his cross caught by away goalkeeper Adam North under pressure from Matt Paterson. In truth both sides were lacking cutting edge despite Jordan Thomas dragging wide a free kick from twenty five yards and Busari cutting a low effort into the side netting from an angle; sloppy passes tending to break down several promising attacking moves.
North Leigh had the best chance to score on thirty-three minutes when great play found Roger James down the right as he advanced towards goal, seeing his powerful effort brilliantly saved by Nick Harvey diving low to his side as the ball was cleared away to safety. Two injury stoppages led to a quieter period as treatment was administered before Gosport suffered a scare on forty-four minutes with the last notable action; a frantic scramble in the penalty area finished by Thomas tapping home, the referee already blowing up for a tackle.
Gosport came out quickest upon the restart and took the lead after Busari had seen his powerful effort saved by North in the away sticks, Dan Wooden rising highest above two markers to meet a well-driven corner from Harry Kavanagh and heading inside the bottom right corner on 48 minutes. In response the visitors saw solid and neat spells of possession but failed to time the offside flag on many occasions; substitutions following for both 2 teams in a bid to freshen up several areas including Abdulai Bell-Baggie replacing Busari for Borough.
Sixty-three minutes saw another huge chance from North Leigh as McCreadie advanced forward only to see his left footed shot saved comfortably by Harvey; a rare opportunity they were made to quickly regret as the hosts doubled their lead just moments later. It came as Williams was released down the right and the young winger found Bell-Baggie on the penalty spot, the winger simply making no mistake in calmly side-footing his low effort into the corner; sending the majority of Privett Park into cheers featuring a mix of joy and big relief.
This second goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors as Gosport piled players forward in search of a third; Wooden’s rising effort saved well by a diving North who further denied Robinson’s shot and Williams in quick succession with just thirteen minutes left to play. The final opening saw Bell-Baggie rattle the crossbar with a long looping effort before the hosts seemed to settle for a clean sheet and three points, an achieved task that was made slightly easier by a late shoulder injury to James meaning North Leigh sadly ending with ten men.
Taking advantage of all other results and teams in FA Cup action, Gosport have risen up the table with fifteen points from nine games; including four home successes from five. However their next scheduled match to be held at Privett Park isn’t due until October 22 against Dorchester, with a succession of four away games next up starting with Hayes & Yeading next Tuesday night. Travels to Bristol Manor Farm, Met Police and Hanwell all await Shaun Gale’s team in the next two weeks as they look to push further into the top half league spots.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Bell-Baggie celebrates with his teammates as he adds a second goal in win over North Leigh on Saturday, ending a rotten league run that lasted nearly 5 weeks since their last success.