By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH continued their indifferent streak of recent results as they hosted Harrow Borough on Wednesday night, losing three-one against their London-based rivals in this midweek encounter. And in truth it was a disappointing overall display from the hosts watched by almost 700 supporters, falling two-nil behind in the first half and being unable to pull off a comeback after last Saturday’s two-all draw against Dorchester; pressure building on Shaun Gale and his players with urgent problems in key positions still to be addressed
Harrow started confidently under cloudy skies as they absorbed three home crosses before creating their 1st opportunity within four minutes; George Moore collecting a defence-splitting pass and seeing his angled shot saved by home goalkeeper Patrick O’Flaherty to his near post. Undeterred a decent second opening arrived for the away side just minutes later as Billy Leonard saw his low effort blocked at source from a short corner; Billie Busari slashing harmlessly over after cutting inside on the counter attack within the 15th minute of play.
Away pressure paid off in the nineteenth minute with an opening goal as a dangerously low delivery was only partially cleared inside the six-yard box and bounced kindly to the feet of Olatunbosun Adenola; the defender toe-poking home inside the bottom right corner despite the best efforts of O’Flaherty. And the night worsened for Gosport as this lead was doubled; Montel Brown linking up with Kai Omoko Brosnan down their right side as the latter settled himself before side-footing home his effort into the corner under O’Flaherty’s diving body.
Proceedings reached the half hour without further incident but the visitor were certainly looking likelier to add a third; Moore twice being denied by O’Flaherty as the static home defence switched off briefly to appeal for an offside decision. Poor set-pieces for both sides followed with a Gosport chance arriving in stoppage time; Bradley Tarbuck breaking free down the right side and playing the perfect layoff to Busari, whose curler was saved sharply by the acrobatic goalkeeper Jacob Knightbridge who flung himself to parry over the crossbar.
The second half began with Gosport dominating possession on the front foot; Tarbuck forcing the away shot-stopper into a diving save as the ball hit his body and bounced back off the crossbar to safety in unfortunate circumstances; Dan Wooden flicking just over from Harry Kavanagh’s deep delivery on 52 minutes. Leonard was also booked for a tackle on the halfway line as Harrow began to retake control of possession, which saw their next opening just before the hour as Keegan Broom flashed wide from 15 yards with his skidding effort.
Shaun Gale made a double substitution as a reply and this did make an immediate impact as Harvey Jewitt-White was clipped inside the penalty area on 68 minutes; the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot after denying similar appeals for handball minutes earlier. And despite some loud pressure from Harrow players protesting the decision, Harvey Rew simply made no mistake in slotting home inside the bottom right corner for two one; sparking encouragement from the vast majority of fans wanting another goal to equalise.
But Privett Park was silenced with sixteen left to play as the away outfit scored their third goal; Moore getting his reward as he slid home into the bottom right corner from Ahmet Biler’s low cross down the opposite flank. This killed the game off as a meaningful contest with Harrow denying any extra spaces for Gosport to launch a comeback; play drifting towards an inevitable conclusion despite late opportunities for Abdulai Bell-Baggie, Rory Williams, and Wooden to halve a 2-goal deficit as Borough fell to their 2nd home defeat this campaign.
With this victory Harrow have moved away from the relegation spots and close their gap on their hosts in the Southern League table; Shaun Gale’s side sitting in the bottom half with 8 losses from 14 this season. This is a run that the manager will need to stabilise both on-pitch and off-pitch, starting with two lengthy trips against struggling Hendon on Saturday before travelling to Beaconsfield on November 5. Two home matches versus Bracknell and Chesham then follow as Borough hope for crucial points in their ever-slimming play-off hopes.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Kyal Williams has eyes on a looping forward pass as he outmuscles Harrow player; but failed to spark Gosport to victory as they suffered their eighth league defeat already this season.