By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH FC ended their winless streak and progressed to the Portsmouth Senior Cup final on Saturday afternoon, sealing a narrow one-nil victory against Wessex League Division One side Petersfield Town at Privett Park. But despite the win and minutes for some players it was a slow home display as they were frustrated by a spirited away performance, with a second half winner by Ryan Pennery the only difference between the two sides in front of a large crowd.
In sunny conditions Gosport started well and created the first chance after eight minutes as good play found Pennery in space, his shot blocked off the line by Petersfield defender Paul Agbeseyi. The striker then created another opportunity moments later as he looked to curl past away goalkeeper Tim Jackson after brilliant work from Nicky Dembele down the right wing, only to be denied by a superb sliding block from Kieran Alcock off his toe as he raced through.
And following a chance from Bradley Tarbuck as his cross was cleared, Petersfield gave Gosport a real scare as Ben Cooper headed into the bottom corner from a set piece; only for the referee to blow for a foul in the box and disallowed the goal in the seventeenth minute. In response both Matt Paterson and Harvey Rew saw shots fly over, whilst Dembele curled wide on the half hour mark after good footwork to beat two defenders twenty-five yards out from goal.
Petersfield then had a spell of possession that resulted in quickfire chances through captain Jack Bourton and Jamie Randall, both lacking the power to test Éllis Grant in the Gosport goal. The hosts did end the first half in control though as Elliot Wheeler flicked a corner wide of the post and Rory William’s dragged wide a free kick; before Tarbuck fired over after cutting down the right as he cut inside to end a goalless first forty five minutes of play.
Shaun Gale made his opening substitution at the interval as Billie Busari replaced Dembele, which did make an impact as he set up Williams down the left; the wingback’s miscued cross nearly floating inside the top corner on 47 minutes. And following a spell of possession for Gosport but no end result, Pennery nearly made it one-nil just before the hour mark; his feint and left footed shot beat the away keeper only to be cleared away by a defensive header.
Petersfield’s best chance came on 62 minutes as they nearly took advantage of Gosport’s lacking performance as Brandon Jewell lobbed Grant from distance; the home goalkeeper recovering to claw the ball away from the goalline despite appeals from away fans behind the goal. And moments later Gosport took the lead down the other end as a corner bounced around the box and fell to the lurking Pennery, who fired home under the outrushing goalkeeper.
This goal combined with substitutions for both sides signalled a loss of momentum as Petersfield ultimately tired following their efforts; with only two notable chances in the last 25 minutes. The first came as the ball reached Dan Wooden with his back to goal, the substitute turning his marker but seeing his shot saved easily by Jackson down low; Busari smashing the crossbar in stoppage time in a second opportunity as Gosport stood firm for the narrow but deserved win overall.
Gosport will now face Moneyfields in the final next month, with this match scheduled to be played at Westleigh Park (Havant & Waterlooville’s ground) on April 16; kicking off at 7:45pm as announced by the Portsmouth Football Association. For now attention must turn to Southern League action as Shaun Gale’s side travel to Wales for their clash versus Merthyr next weekend, before hosting play-off rivals Taunton Town at Privett Mark on March 26 with a 3pm kick off as the season reaches its climax.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Striker Matt Paterson wins the ball from a Petersfield player in tight Portsmouth Senior Cup semi-final on Saturday afternoon as Gosport seal narrow one-nil victory.