By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH FC returned to winning ways following a challenging week as they beat Beaconsfield Town on Saturday afternoon – a victory that keeps Shawn Gale’s team third in the Southern League Premier after 14 games played.
But the hosts made hard work of this win as they dominated the first half and should have been further ahead at the break before being pegged back by an equaliser just after the hour mark. Nicky Dembele sealed a 2-1 scoreline with an 81st minute winner off the bench as Borough won their ninth league match this campaign.
Gosport started the better in a cagey start for both sides, creating their first chance after 11 minutes from a corner. The delivery was met by Matt Briggs whose header smashed the crossbar, with the rebound from Joshua Huggins blocked at source. Moments later Bradley Tarbuck cut inside and saw his low pinballer roll into the arms of Beaconsfield keeper Aymen Azaze, while Toby Little’s low drive was gathered sharply by Borough shot-stopper Albert White down the other end on 15 minutes,
Sixty seconds later, Gosport were back on the attack as Harry Kavanagh’s low cross was deflected out for a corner, with the right-footed inswinger delivery causing pinball in the box. The ball fell kindly to Ryan Woodford, still awaiting the start of his three-match ban. His hooked effort from six yards hit the crossbar and bounced over the goalline to give the hosts a 16th minute lead. Four minutes later, Dan Wooden was unlucky to only guide his header straight at Azaze, before another chance came soon after for Borough as Theo Widdrington smashed over the crossbar with a rising angled shot.
On 27 minutes, Gosport won a free kick that was headed over the crossbar by Wooden, with Beaconsfield right-back Harry Tucker booked for a misjudged foul by referee Naill Clinton. Just after the half hour mark the hosts saw their best opportunity to double the lead when Kavanagh linked up with Theo Lewis on the right, a flicked header narrowly missed the diving Wooden. From this point Beaconsfield dominated possession as minutes ticked towards the interval., Oliver McCoy looking dangerous as he fired over the bar before finding Nathan Minhas who somehow missed an open goal with the last notable action of the half.
The visitors made a substitution upon the restart with Callum Webb replacing the booked Tucker, which seemed to help them as they began the second period well. On 48 minutes, a fine through ball found McCoy who scuffed his effort wide, while away captain Scott Donnelly saw an ambitious shot float harmlessly towards the corner flag. But after bookings for home duo Huggins and Woodford for fouls Beaconsfield made their pressure count with an equaliser on 63 minutes as Minhas made no mistake in firing home past White after being played through on goal.
In response, Gosport sought to regain control but often lacked the final pass and focus point, with both Mason Walsh and Rory Williams going close. This changed when a triple substitution was made on 77 minutes with Matt Patterson, Luke Hallett and Nicky Dembele coming on. Four minutes later Privett Park erupted when two of these changes linked up to score the second Gosport goal as the floodlights took full effect, starting when Tarbuck broke through on a counter attack. An incisive pass found Paterson with his back to goal and he fed Dembele on the right after great hold-up play, with the winger firing a curling effort into the opposite top corner despite the despairing dive of Azaze.
This second Gosport goal proved to be the winner, although chances came for both sides in the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time. Tarbuck nearly added a third goal on 84 minutes as he showed good footwork to create space but had his effort saved by Azaze at the near post before an effort by Hallett drifted wide from 25 yards moments later. Stoppage time saw a desperate attempt by Beaconsfield for a hard-fought equaliser with Jordan Eccleston heading over a swinging free-kick before Tyrone Lewthwaite had his dangerous cross evade the area to be gathered by White, Gosport holding on for an important three points following recent results which included the FA Trophy defeat last weekend.
Gosport were scheduled to play Hendon away in midweek but the match has been postponed until mid-December due to their opposition’s County Cup commitments. Therefore Shawn Gale’s side will have to wait until next Saturday afternoon for their next league game against Welsh-side Merthyr Town at Privett Park, an occasion that will furthermore mark Remembrance Day with a ceremony and a minute’s silence to mark those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Kings Langley will then visit Privett Park on November 17, while a trip to Taunton Town will face Borough three days later as the season begins to take shape before the festive period of non-league football. Beaconsfield sit in 19th place in the league after this narrow defeat and will travel to high-flying Farnborough on Tuesday night before hosting Swindon Supermarine next Saturday at home.
PICTURED BY COLIN FARMERY: Gosport attack is blocked by a Beaconsfield defender