By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH’S last game of the season saw them clinch the Portsmouth Senior Cup title for the seventh time in their history, beating Wessex League outfit Moneyfields 4-1 at the PMC Stadium (Baffins) on Wednesday evening. But in truth the scoreline arguably doesn’t reflect the game as Moneyfields deserved more from their efforts in a feisty derby encounter that saw two sending-offs in controversial fashion, Shaun Gale’s side simply proving too clinical and experienced when it mattered at key moments in the 90 minutes.
In front of a large crowd Moneyfields started the better and created their first chance after just two minutes as they won a free-kick in a dangerous position; Jordan Pile’s curling effort well palmed away to safety by Gosport goalkeeper Ellis Grant with the resulting corner cleared away. Moments later Rob Evans saw his driven effort narrowly missed the bottom corner from 20 yards, whilst Borough saw their first effort on eleven minutes as Ashton Leigh had a shot that drifted harmlessly wide of the post after cutting inside on the right.
A quiet spell was ended on twenty-two minutes as Gosport scored the first goal with Bradley Tarbuck and Harry Kavanagh linking up down the right; the latter’s low cross finding Matt Paterson who flicked into Dan Wooden to smash home past Moneyfields keeper Callum McGeorge inside the bottom corner. It was two-nil just five minutes later as Leigh showed great footwork and played a lovely dinked pass over the defender into the feet of Wooden to double his tally for the evening, boosting Gosport’s hopes before the half hour.
It could have been 3-0 on thirty three minutes as Wooden and Rory Williams switched quick passes to find Paterson; the striker’s low snapshot rattling the far post and bouncing to safety for a let off. But just moments later Moneyfields’ problems were worsened as they were harshly reduced to ten men, the referee awarding a Gosport penalty with Callum Glen sent off for dissent. And despite the penalty decision being ruled out for offside after talks with the lineman, this red card was left to stand causing much discussion at the break.
Gosport came out dominating possession upon the restart as the Moneyfields’ defence stood firm, but Shaun Gale’s side were given a prime chance to triple their lead on 55 minutes when a dangerous free kick was handled by a player inside the box. There was no options for the referee but to give a penalty, which was calmly converted by Leigh to make it 3-0 and arguably kill the game off as a meaningful contest; Wooden and Paterson also going close to a fourth either side of the hour mark with both shots flying over the bar.
Moneyfields got their deserved consolation on 64 minutes when they won a penalty of their own, which came as a quick pass found Steve Hutchings who was held back by a defender. Up stepped the striker who sent Grant the wrong way and rolled into the corner to make it 3-1, with two further half chances from substitute Rafferty Boyd-Kerr who fired over the crossbar and Declan Seidon’s goal-bound shot deflecting inches wide in search of a second goal with just twenty-one minutes left to play on the clock as darkness descended.
The second red card fell Gosport’s way as Billie Busari reacted angrily to an off-the-ball challenge with Corey Heath, leaving the referee no choice to send the substitute back to the bench just five minutes after entering the pitch. But it wasn’t to be a deciding factor as the Southern League Premier side made it 4-1 on seventy-nine minutes as Luke Hallett headed home into the net from Williams’ cross to seal the silverware; this attack being the last notable action of the evening as the match drifted towards an almost inevitable conclusion.
With no games left to play this campaign and the season completed for the first time in 3 years, Gosport will look upon an overall successful twelve months; having finished in the top half of the league and maintaining a play-off hope for the majority whilst adding some much welcomed silverware. But Shaun Gale and his side will be aware of much improvements needed to maintain these performances during the 2022-23 campaign, needing greater consistency and less draws / losses as they fell 12 points away from a promotion chance.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Borough staff and players celebrate holding the Portsmouth Senior Cup trophy after beating Moneyfields in the final on dry Wednesday night, held at Baffins Milton Rovers.