By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH won their first league game since early February as they made the longest trip this season, beating Merthyr Town two-one on a dry afternoon in mid-Wales on Saturday afternoon. It was a tough game that didn’t see many real opportunities and was settled by a wonder goal by Matt Patterson; alongside a late winner from Matt Briggs as Shaun Gale’s side completed a double over the Martyrs.
Under sunny skies it was Merthyr who started the better as they adopted to a narrow artificial surface and created their first chance after six minutes following a good pass into space; Alex John firing over the crossbar from range. Moments later Jack Evans broke down the right hand side and floated a cross into the area; striker Lewis Powell nodding wide from close range, whilst Luke Hallett fired a shot over the bar on fifteen minutes down the other end after a side-wides pass by captain Mike Carter.
The visitors began to slowly work themselves into the game with a spell of passing in Merthyr’s half, which saw them have the next opportunity as Paterson fired over from close range on 27 minutes. Gosport then had a shot on target just after the half hour as Ashton Leigh saw his effort gathered easily by home goalkeeper Jamie Cogman; the same attacker narrowly missing a low cross from Harvey Rew that evaded everyone in a crowded penalty area.
Just as both sides looked destined not to score before the break, Gosport took the lead on thirty nine minutes with a wonder goal from Paterson; the striker connecting brilliantly with a looping ball and volleying it home into the top corner from 25 yards out. It was a goal that drew applause from both sets of fans and seemed to spark the visitors into life, nearly doubling their lead in stoppage time as Rory Williams’ saw his ambitious effort clear the crossbar from forty-five yards.
With Merthyr needing a goal space opened up as the second period begun; the next chance arriving for the hosts on 49 minutes as Keyon Reffell fired straight at Gosport keeper Fynn Talley; whilst Adam Davis’ cross was shot wide from Powell moments later. But Gosport were looking threatening on the break and they nearly doubled the lead on the hour mark, Bradley Tarbuck finding space to shoot with his curling effort blocked at source by the home defence.
Merthyr were grafting hard and gained their reward on 63 minutes as they equalised; tricking winger Curtis Jemmet-Hutson awarded too much space and he responded in style with a brilliant strike into the bottom corner from 20 yards. This pegged Borough back and they responded with two quickfire opportunities, Tarbuck firing wide and an effort from the head of Seok-Jae hitting the post from close range with twenty left on the clock.
And following another chance for Jemmet-Hudson who fired wide, two away players suffered a nasty clash of heads which saw a lengthy stoppage; Williams leaving the pitch for treatment with ten minutes of additional time given by the officials. Gosport didn’t waste this extra time as they snatched the winner in the last minute; Tarbuck recycling a corner and the ball fell to Briggs at the back post to bundle home to spark huge away celebrations as they sealed a narrow but vital three points.
Following other results on Saturday afternoon, Gosport sit eighth place within the Southern League table having played 36 matches; three points off the play-offs as both Chesham and Weston-Super-Mare couldn’t win their games. They will now host high-flying Taunton Town at Privett Park next Saturday afternoon, before travelling to Kings Langley seven days later. Shaun Gale’s side also have a cup final early next month as they will play Moneyfields in the Portsmouth Senior Cup on April 6, with a 7:45pm kick-off at Westleigh Park.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Matt Paterson gives Gosport the lead with thunderous volley in the first half, but need stoppage time winner to beat Merthyr in spring-like Welsh conditions.