By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH finished a mixed week of results by extending their losing streak away from Privett Park, falling to a 2-1 defeat at Taunton Town on Saturday afternoon ending with 10 men after a red card.
After a goal-less first half in Somerset, finishes from Jack Veale and Jared Lewington either side of an equaliser by Matt Paterson sealed the three points for the Peacocks, with the winner coming inside the final 10 minutes of an even encounter.
In overcast and cold conditions at the Cygnet Health Stadium, Taunton created a first chance after just 60 seconds, a free kick from Jay Foulston met by his teammate Ben Adelsbury who could only guide his nodded effort wide with the offside flag raised on the far side. Shortly afterwards, Foulston’s corner found an unmarked Lewington at the second try. But his tame looping header was gathered easilly by away goalkeeper Albert White at the near post.
Down the other end, Gosport won a free kick that was played by Harry Kavanagh into a crowded penalty area – the ball only partially cleared to recent signing Bedsente Gomis who fired over a rising volley. On 13 minutes, a cross from the left reached Bradley Tarbuck in space and the winger fired towards goal, only to take a deflection off the legs of Dan Wooden and drift wide of the post.
Following this attacking start, play soon evolved into a midfield battle dominated by the hosts, although the next chance for either side didn’t arrive until the half hour. It fell the way of Taunton as Jacob Wannell’s pass found Toby Holmes on the edge of the box, but his long range effort was thwarted by a deflection off the referee. Sixty seconds later, Ross Stern set up Adelsbury in space, whose effort was diverted harmlessly over by Matt Briggs’ legs as the hosts looked to keep up the pressure.
From this resulting corner came Taunton’s best chance to take the lead during the first half. Stern’s inch-perfect delivery landed on the head of Ioan Richards unmarked to smash the crossbar with the Gosport defence beaten. Moments later away defender Briggs was sloppy and the ball stolen by Lewington who forced a great save from White between the sticks as he parried away to safety – a huge let off for the visitors.
Richards then saw another header saved by White on 38 minutes before an effort from Nicholas Grimes was blocked at source on the next attack, while Foulston’s free kick went straight over the crossbar in the final home chance before the break. Fortunate not to be trailing, Gosport then saw two chances as the opening half ended, Gomis firing over from range and Kavanagh having his powerful drive diverted away by Wannell, Peacocks’ keeper Will Buse untroubled as the referee blew for half time.
Taunton also continued this momentum into the second half as they scored on 49 minutes, moments after Mason Walsh found Rew to fire straight at Buse. From this Gosport opportunity, the Peacocks advanced forward with Veale, who beat two defenders including Rew, a powerful drive hitting Briggs and wrongfooting White into the bottom left corner out of reach of his dive. Frustrated at falling behind, Gomis picked up a yellow card for a foul on Holmes.
Stern took the resulting free-kick and it fizzled towards goal on the ground under the wall, being saved by White gathering the rebound before Lewington could convert. On the hour mark, Stern was found in space after good work from Holmes; his effort flashing wide from 18 yards after calmly controlling the pass. A series of corners for the Peacocks were also dealt with by the away defence, before home substitutions allowed Gosport to regroup going into the last 25 minutes of play.
It was Walsh who was providing the spark for Shaun Gale’s men with pace and power, seeing a curling shot wide of the post on 68 minutes. Moments later, Wooden’s low drive was blocked by a sliding Wannell and quickfire crosses were held by the commanding Buse. Gosport’s short spell of momentum ended when Wooden suffered a foot injury and had to be replaced by Matt Paterson, sparking changes for both sides with the game still in the balance as play entered the last 15 minutes.
After Gethyn Hill’s long range lob over White was tipped over, Gosport did get their equaliser down the other end as they won a corner via a deflection. The delivery from Walsh was met by Paterson who rose highest, beating his defender in the air and unleashing a header just inside the post to level scores on 79 minutes. But just as away fans and staff finished celebrating Taunton retook the lead 60 seconds later, Lewington collecting the ball and firing into the corner across White with an outside-of-the- boot finish that delighted most of the 522-strong crowd.
Things went from bad to worse shortly for Gosport after falling behind again. Gomis fouled an opponent in front of the referee and received a second yellow card for an early shower, meaning that Borough had to seek another goal with a numerical disadvantage. To their credit, they never gave up as substitutes Billie Busari and new signing Seak-Jae Lee looked lively down the wings. But the visitors lacked the final ball and were ultimately snuffed out. Taunton held on for a welcome three points after five minutes of added time, Connor Hartley firing wide the final chance for either side before the referee blew on another frustrating afternoon away from home for Gosport.
Shawn Gale’s men have now slipped to third on goal difference following two under-par performances this week and will be hoping Gosport recover their form in crucial upcoming matches. Borough will play Portchester at the On-Site Group Stadium on Tuesday night in the Portsmouth Senior Cup, before returning to Privett Park next weekend for a league encounter against Swindon Supermarine. December will then begin with a clash against bottom-side Wimborne Town at home in a rearranged fixture, while Gosport’s next away trip will see them visit Tiverton in exactly two weeks time.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Taunton players celebrate their opening goal in overcast Somerset conditions