By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH concluded the 2023/24 pre-season preparations with a sublime victory against Hartley Wintney on Saturday afternoon (July 29); thrashing a former Southern League Division opponent six-nil as they put in a sizzling attacking performance throughout this final friendly encounter in front of over 4-hundred supporters at the AEI Stadium.
The hosts rattled forward under sunny conditions and took an early lead within just five minutes as Antonio Diaz floated a deep cross into Dan Wooden; the striker gliding his header home from six yards. And the lead was doubled moments later as Wooden played an inch-perfect pass into Rafa Ramos who made no errors in slotting home his low calm finish.
Hartley responded quickly to the “double blow” and found the net when Rowan Vine tapped home past the home trialist keeper, but this goal was disallowed for an apparent foul or offside in their build-up. The scare pushed Borough forward to much reward as they made it three-nil after good passing move released Ramos and the striker fired in the open net.
A fourth goal arrived in the thirty-eighth minute when a cross was played backwards to the edge of the box and it found Bradley Tarbuck, who unleashed his rocket past the stranded goalkeeper into the top right corner. Things did get worse for Hartley when the hosts won a corner that was nodded home by Jordan Rose; the scores staying five-nil at half time.
Both teams resumed sedately upon the restart with Gosport dominating the possession and their shell-shocked visitors simply absorbing this attacking possession to better effect. And even when they did finally get through the defence, the home attackers were thwarted by the goalkeeper who denied efforts from Wooden and Harvey Rew in fast succession.
Substitutions followed across both teams and this signalled a lull in proceedings; Gosport creating their next opening in the seventy-first minute when Rory Williams placed a free kick narrowly wide of the far post. But a wonder goal by Rew followed as the midfielder nutmegged two defenders to create extra space, running through this gap and slotting home.
To their credit Hartley never gave up and created one final chance when a long ball caught the static home defence out cold; their striker running though and seeing an ambitious flick shot saved by the keeper who protected his clean sheet. This was despite multiple corners from the visitors in the final five minutes but the real damage had already been done.
Victory rounds off a successful pre-season for the new look Gosport team who are now led by co-managers Pat Suraci and Joe Lea for the new campaign. This starts at the AEI Stadium next Saturday (August 5) as they entertain Bracknell Town in the Southern League whilst their away games begin with a long journey to Plymouth Parkway just a week later.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Rafa Ramos wins ball off a Hartley Wintney player as hosts run riot in comfortable win.