GOSPORT Borough FC started their new 2021-22 campaign with a real bang on Saturday afternoon, sending fans home with croaky voices after 90 minutes of drama only comparable to a soap opera.
Fans who were lucky enough to attend the match at Privett Park saw seven goals in an encounter that saw Gosport go ahead and were minutes away from losing, only to seal a 4-3 victory versus Poole Town with virtually the last kick after seven minutes of stoppage time.
Borough started brightly in front of 429 supporters and had their first shot on target after 20 seconds; Pat Suraci showing nifty footwork to cut inside at the edge of the box and shooting straight at Poole keeper Mark Childs. Down the other end the visitors saw a succession of corners, but these ultimately came to nothing as the home defence stood firm in an attacking opening five minutes.
In the seventh minute a brilliant passing move saw a lofted pass reach the feet of Bradley Tarbuck, who advanced towards goal inside the penalty area. The attacker created space and shot towards the corner, with his effort deflecting off the feet of Luke Holmes into the far corner. In response Poole saw their own half chance from Jack Dickson before an injury stoppage disrupted the flow.
Gosport doubled their lead on 19 minutes as Harry Kavanagh’s cross was cleared into the feet of the lurking Bouwe Bosma, whose effort from 22 yards was deflected out for a corner delivered from the right side. The ball was floated perfectly into a crowded penalty area and Theo Lewis simply rose highest to nod into the bottom right corner past a static defensive unit of Poole.
But instead of crumbling Poole went straight up the other end and pulled a goal back on 22 minutes. Good play from Joshua Carmichael created space for the winger to play a beautiful out-swinging cross, with the Gosport defence switching off and allowing Toby-James Lee to head into the top right corner over keeper Aaron Right. Minutes later Poole should have been level as Carmichael advanced into the are and fed Dickson, who fired over the crossbar when well placed.
Gosport dominated the remaining 15 minutes before half time with two half chances; the first coming from Pat Suraci as he curled wide before a shot from Bradley Tarbuck was straight at the Poole keeper. But an entertaining first half quickly came to an end with Gosport winning 2-1 and the visitors still within touching distance after their disappointing start.
The second half started with a series of injury stoppages including home goalkeeper Albert White, who hit his head on the post when scrambling for a cross and needed some treatment from the magic sponge Late fouls from both sides saw a melee that was brilliantly ended by Iain Parsons, with William Spetch and Theo Lewis seeing yellows for mistimed tackles as the game drifted towards the hour mark.
The visitors seemed to be more determined as they equalised on 61 minutes; the ball was given away and Jack Dickson collected it in space. The winger advanced towards goal and shot into the far corner past the dive of White in the Gosport goal with defenders struggling in vain. One of these was Harry Kavanagh who suffered a serious looking arm injury and was sadly stretchered off the pitch into the changing room areas behind the stands.
It should have been 3-2 to Poole four minutes later as a cross from the right found captain Jamie Whisken, whose volley was expertly tipped over the crossbar by the gloves of Gosport keeper White. The home side then took the sting out of away momentum as they dominated the ball without any real chances, with some corners and set pieces being dealt with by the visiting defenders.
Poole sealed their fantastic comeback on 83 minutes as a cross from the right was played into the corridor of uncertainty and was missed by a crowded penalty area including Gosport defenders; falling kindly to the feet of Tony-James Lee to tap into the net. As the clock drifted past the 90 minutes Poole looked like they had sealed an opening day victory, however fans may need to learn never to rule Gosport out of a game.
In the second minute of stoppage time following earlier injuries, Borough equalised through a fine move down the right to send Privett Park into relieved celebrations. Substitute Sirigui Dembele collected a loose ball and played a floated cross into the box, with his inch perfect delivery landing onto the head of Dan Wooden who made no mistake with a delicately placed header into the corner.
And it got better with the final kick of the game as Gosport took the lead on 97 minutes; sending an eruption of joy and passion in the stands on a sunny afternoon. Joe Lea broke down the right and sent a dangerous cross that was deflected outside the area in the direction of Bradley Tarbuck; the lurking attacker calmly let fly with a first time effort that slow-motioned its way into the net. It capped an amazing afternoon full of drama and arguably a draw would have been a fairer result, but for Gosport it was a welcome three points that sets them up for two away games over the next week.
Borough will face a midweek trip to Walton Casuals on Tuesday night (17/08) with a 7.45pm start at Waterside Drive. They will then face a similar lengthy journey to the West Country next Saturday when Gosport will try to Weston-Super-Mare at the Optima Stadium with a 3pm kick-off. The next action at Privett Park is scheduled for two weeks’ time (Bank Holiday weekend) as Gosport host Chesham United in the Southern League Premier.