Gosport succumb to late Salisbury play-off heartache

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH will contest their 2024/25 campaign in the Southern League Premier after they were consigned to a heartbreaking stoppage time defeat against Salisbury in their play-off semi final; the hosts scoring two late goals in a tight 2-1 success in front of over two thousand supporters at the atmospheric Ray Mac Stadium on Wednesday night.

The away team started brightly and created an opportunitity within five minutes as Dan Wooden siezed upon a nervous defensive error; the striker running towards goal before being crowded out by this backline. Down the other end Charlie Gunson attempted an ambitious chip shot whilst seeing Toby Steward off his line; the away goalkeeper recovering well.

Borough responded to this scare and almost took the early lead after eighteen minutes when Danny Hollands threaded through a pass into the feet of Rafa Ramos, who sent his shot wide from a tight angle. This was followed by a big lull in goalmouth action with the teams seeming content in a midfield battle that neither wanted to lose or make any mistakes.

Salisbury however were dominating possession in a boistrous atmosphere and had a great chance to score in the 39th minute; Gunson sprinting through and firing into the side netting under pressure. Another home opening came seconds later as Noah Coppins’ dragged effort was quickly deflected away from target; the score remaining nil-nil at the interval.

A half time substitution appeared to initally unsettle the home midfield and Gosport tried to again take advantage of the uncertainty; Wooden sending a shot over the bar after winning the ball on 46 minutes. The veteran attacker also tested Salisbury’s Ryan Gosney with his low shot from 20 yards before the hosts made another substitute after the hour mark.

Another opportunity fell to Gosport on sixty-six minutes when a corner caused carnage inside the area and the ball was smacked against the bar before bouncing down; the referee turning down the appeals for a goal. But this deadlock was soon broken moments later when another corner fell to Charlie Wassmer who was alert and stabbed home into the net.

Gosney denied Bradley Tarbuck and Alex Barsa with a sublime double save before Salisbury levelled after 86 minutes; Josh Hedges expertly drilling past Steward into the far corner. This comeback was complete as Wassmer fouled a fast attacker in the area and was sent off for being the last man; Coppins stepping up and scoring the penalty for a 2-1 win.

Salisbury are due to contest the play-off final versus AFC Totton next Monday; both sides aiming to gain promotion into the National League South for next season. For Gosport their attentions will now focus to the semi-finals of the Russell Cotes Cup and Portsmouth Senior Cup over the coming weeks as they aim to finish the season with some ‘silverware’.

PICTURED BY ROGER ELLIOTT: The home keeper intercepts a low ball across 6-yard box with striker at the far post.