By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH FC ended their awful showing away from Privett Park and sealed the perfect Bank Holiday weekend, beating Winchester City one-nil on Monday in the Southern League Premier South. In a tight local derby it took a first half winner from Kyal Williams to seal all 3 points on offer at the Simplyhealth City Ground with many opportunities to extend this advantage, but the visitors endured a nervy last forty-one minutes after Harry Jewitt-White was shown a red card for an off-the-ball incident as they looked in control.
The first ten minutes were dominated by spells of possession by both sides with neither wanting to make any early mistake following their matches on Saturday afternoon; a opening chance falling the way of Gosport as Jewitt-White found space for a tame effort that was saved by Winchester keeper Charlie Philpott at his right post. Harvey Rew then linked up with Danny Hollands who dragged his shot over the bar and Dan Wooden flicked wide a low cross within a five minute spell of attacking play by the visitors on a good passing surface.
Winchester slowly grew into proceedings and saw their first chance on twenty minutes as great passing play reached Alexander MacAllister, whose dinked effort was cleared brilliantly off the goalline by Harry Kavanagh with his goalkeeper Patrick O’Flaherty beaten. But they kept attacking with Simbarashe Mlambo glancing his header narrowly wide of the post and Claudio Herbert sliced into the site netting from an angled curler, whilst Jamie Barron spun his marker on the edge of the box but fired straight at the away keeper on thirty minutes.
After weathering this storm Gosport took the lead on thirty-four minutes as Kavanagh found space down the right wing beating two defenders with pace, his low cross finding Williams who made no mistake in slotting a calm accurate finish past the outrushing Philpott. This opener seemed to further buoy the visitors as Abdulai Bell-Baggie and Brendon Willson had efforts saved by the home goalkeeper; Winchester resorting to tactical fouls in order to help partially break down the momentum and kept the scores to 1-0 at the half time interval.
Shaun Gale made one change at the break as Matt Paterson replaced the goalscorer to facilitate his tactical formation tweak, but his plan was ruined as his team were reduced to ten men on 49 minutes. A firmer tackle on the halfway line was deemed fair by the referee but big frustration soon erupted across both teams, with Jewitt-White shown a straight red alongside bookings for Winchester pair Daniel King and Max Smith. Minor discussion between officials then saw a number of others given a stern warning once everything had calmed.
Andreas Robinson was brought onto the pitch in response and nearly made an impact but saw his tame shot easily saved by Philpott diving to his left, whilst Wooden headed over a corner just after the hour mark. The 2 half chances seemed to spark Winchester back into life as they saw Henry Brooks replace Herbert, the right winger firing straight down the throat of the keeper after cutting inside. And with 18 minutes left to play Smith linked up alongside Barron, who fired over the bar from close range after slipping in the process of his effort.
The away players seemed to retreat slightly as they looked to protect their hard-fought lead, inviting hopeful Winchester forwards to create a flurry of good opportunities to level within the final ten minutes. Willson had to stretch in order to deny a shot from a corner and MacAllister’s volley flew inches wide of the post, whilst Robinson threw out a block in stoppage time as Gosport resisted the pressure to seal the big victory; much to the delight of away fans in the crowd who loyally spurred on their players through very difficult moments.
Three points and other results on Monday mean that Gosport sit only a single point behind the four play-off places after six games played, winning four and losing two so far. But Shaun Gale’s side must now turn their attentions to FA Cup action on Saturday afternoon when they will face unbeaten Hamworthy United in the 1st Qualifying Round, with any replay scheduled for September 7 at Privett Park. Southern League matches will return in 12 days time when Gosport host another local side in the form of Salisbury City with a 3pm kick off.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS PHOTOGRAPHY: Kyal Williams’ low effort is saved by the falling Winchester goalkeeper in the first half as they seal two victories out of two in their August Bank Holiday double header.