Paulton force cup replay with late leveller

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH face another frustrating replay in midweek as they were held one-all against Paulton Rovers in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round on Saturday; the visitors scoring a richly deserved stoppage time leveller to keep themselves in the competition at Privett Park. But in an emotionally charged knockout tie, the focus will be on the brilliant off-field tributes from over 500 supporters; with the two sides taking part in 2-minutes of silence and a rendition of the national anthem following the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

The hosts saw the opening chance after 60 seconds as Kyle Williams ran forward and fed Dan Wooden; who smashed the far post with a low curling shot from twenty yards. The second opportunity for Gosport came on five minutes when Harry Kavanagh set up Bradley Tarbuck to drive over, whilst Paulton saw their first chance moments later as Ed Butcher’s cross caused some pinball. However this good attack was ended by a sliding challenge by Kyle Tooze, who saw yellow alongside the away manager following an intensely heated scuffle.

Paulton used home frustration to their advantage as a turn and pass into space found Tooze through on goal in the fourteenth minute, whose effort was brilliantly saved by White with his legs. In response striker Harvey Bradbury headed wide an inch-perfect delivery from Tarbuck before Wooden hit a half-volley harmlessly over the bar on 22 minutes. And following a quieter spell including some precise home possession Rory Williams almost gave the hosts the lead on the half hour, his whipped free kick evading everyone inside the busy box.

Ed Butcher saw his shot on thirty-three minutes drift wide of the post with White scrambling, Daniel Dempsey also firing over from twenty yards as the ball fell kindly to his foot moments later. A battling fifty-fifty challenge between Harvey Rew and Chris Peck saw treatment given to both players during a stoppage as the Gosport player was booked, Paulton seeing the last two notable chances before the interval. The first came from Will Harvey as he saw his effort deflected for a corner before Martin Lenihan cut down the left and fired just wide.

Proceedings restarted in the second period with Andreas Robinson dragging over his effort from long range and Wooden narrowly missing an inswinging delivery from Williams down the right wing. Down the other end Paulton saw Tooze fire a cross into the side netting from an angle and they won a series of corners on either side; all of which were brilliantly cleared by home defenders as Bradbury tried to capitalise on extra space as he set up Wooden who sliced wide under huge pressure from James Byrne who lunged his body in his way.

Substitutions followed for both sides as Abdulai Bell-Baggie replaced Kyle Williams just after the hour mark, nearly making an immediate impact as he curled his shot onto the roof of the net from just outside the box. Sixty-six minutes saw the best chance for Gosport as a corner found Brendan Wilson ten yards out and the defender let loose with his half volley that looked destined for the net, only for an audacious save by away keeper Aaron Sainsbury to superbly tip the ball over the bar; a save that drew both gasps and loud applause.

Another round of applause came on 70 minutes in tribute to the late Monarch before another lull interrupted by further changes for both sides going into the final ten. And the opener was scored on 82 minutes as Bell-Baggie broke forward and played his low cross into the box to find the lurking Wooden who tapped home his shot from six yards out to much celebrations. But in the ninety-fourth minute Paulton equalised from a corner by Harvey, the ball falling to Leo Eglin to head home a last gasp equaliser as the sides finished equal at 1-1.

Following this match Gosport will now face a long trip to Winterfield Road on Wednesday night for the replay on the outskirts of Bristol, which is what they wouldn’t have wanted following their midweek penalty shootout loss to Andover New Street last Tuesday. Shaun Gale’s outfit are then scheduled to play Truro City away on Saturday before hosting Poole Town on September 28; their next opponents on October 1 being either North Leigh or a third qualifying round tie (draw on Tuesday) if they progress from the away replay later next week.

PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Both teams challenge for a loose ball in feisty FA Cup draw at Privett Park on Saturday, which saw perfect tributes to the late Queen Elizabeth II before and during the ninety-minutes.