By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH continued a disappointing away record in the Southern League Premier on Tuesday evening as they travelled to North London, eventually losing three-nil versus Hayes & Yeading at the SkyEx Community Stadium. This was despite a blistering opening spell for Shaun Gale’s side under overcast skies as they raced into a two goal lead within just five minutes; only to be pegged back as the match wore on and ended with a comeback victory in the second half as the hosts ultimately took more of their big opportunities.
The visitors started well against their injury-hit hosts and took an early advantage after three minutes, a long forward punt being misjudged by home right-back Ezra Ikebuasi under pressure and Harvey Rew capitalised on this error; controlling the loose clearance and lofting a chipped effort into the net over the outrushing Ryan Hall. It was soon two-nil when away captain Rory Williams found space down the wings and played a perfect cross, which was met by Dan Wooden to glance his header past the goalkeeper’s gloves to stun home fans.
Hayes quickly worked themselves back into the game as they reduced arrears after 11 minutes, coming from a corner after Jaden Thompson-Brissett’s effort forced a save from away goalkeeper Nick Harvey diverting it wide. The delivery was inch-perfect from Reece Cole and reached Charlie Wassmer via a good flick-on, the captain making no mistake in heading into the roof of the net. And after a quieter spell of both sides having possession but no chances, the hosts nearly equalised as Alfie William’s shot hit the post from 25 yards out.
Centre-back Matt Briggs picked up a slight injury shortly after 30 minutes in a big blow for Gosport, the hosts nearly taking advantage of this defensive tweak as Hassan Jalloh’s shot was well blocked by away substitute Finley Walsh-Smith on the six yard box; the Hayes’ striker further seeing his 2nd effort gathered by Harvey. It wasn’t long before pressure finally told as the hosts levelled after 41 minutes as another delivery was met by Wassmer to head home for 2-2, which is how it stayed at half-time despite an effort from Andreas Robinson.
It was a slower start to the second half as play seemed to settle down into a midfield battle that neither side wanted to lose, although Rew drove wide from an angle after good work from Danny Hollands and Wooden headed over an inviting cross from Williams. Walsh-Smith was then booked alongside Cole as Luke Brophy saw his effort drift into the side netting on fifty-nine minutes; a series of corners proving fruitless across both teams with frustration building for the visitors, Hollands and Williams joining their teammate in seeing yellow.
A third home goal arrived on sixty-three minutes when a low corner was recycled down the right wing, finding its way to Alfie Williams who moved infield and fired towards goal to be saved by Harvey. However the away keeper could only parry the ball straight into the path of Moses Emmanuel in space; the attacker making little mistake by volleying home an effort inside the corner for three-two. Substitutions then followed for both sides in response to this fifth goal of the evening, these interruptions signalling a slight lull of stop-start momentum.
Away keeper Harvey denied a third goal for Hayes as he parried an effort from Emmanuel who had spun his marker inside the penalty area, before Gosport switched into gear in the final stages as they looked for a late equaliser. And they twice came close as Harvey Bradbury first looped his header over the roof of the netting before Harry Kavanagh’s cross caused pinball inside the penalty area; two shots being saved by Hall and an effort cleared off the line as the hosts closed the game without any further scares for a comeback success.
Shaun Gale will be bitterly disappointed about another defeat and the manner in which his side lost after the promising start, failing to end his side’s recent hoodoo playing away from Privett Park as they enter a run of travels. This starts with a FA Trophy match against Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday afternoon before visiting Met Police in the Southern League on Tuesday; Hanwell Town away (15/10) ending a streak of four matches as Gosport return to Privett Park with a home clash against current mid-table side Dorchester Town (22/10).
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: The 2 sides meet in 2021-22 encounter at the SkyEx Stadium back in mid-February, but are unable to replicate this draw on Tuesday as they fall to brilliant Hayes & Yeading recovery.