By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH were left frustrated in the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon as they were held to a tight goalless draw after ninety minutes against Hamworthy United, meaning a midweek replay is needed in their 1st Qualifying Round encounter at Privett Park on Wednesday night. But in truth Shaun Gale’s outfit seemed the happier of the two sides as they were reduced to ten men for the second successive away match; keeper Patrick O’Flaherty seeing a red card halfway through the second half with many home chances squandered.
Hamworthy adapted quickly with their artificial pitch surface proving beneficial to their accurate passing play, creating the first chance on four minutes when Cameron Munn fired over a cross down the right side. Harvey Rew then drove straight at home goalkeeper Shane Murphy with a tame rolling shot whilst Dan Wooden was unlucky not to convert a low square-pass from Harry Kavanagh beating his defensive marker; Matt Paterson then flicking a header over from close range at a corner on 15 minutes after a routine off the training ground.
After absorbing the pressure Hamworthy created their best opening when they won a corner that was met by the rising and returning Connor Cocklin, who headed just inches past the post under pressure at the far side. This chance seemed to give the hosts some confidence despite a slight gulf in quality and experience, with a shot from Munn flying harmlessly over from an angle before Drew Eccott-Young drove straight at O’Flaherty; Adbulai Bell-Baggie and Danny Hollands looking dangerous down the other end with little successes of note.
That was until the 36th minute after a spell of possession as Hollands collected the ball in space and floated a pin-point cross onto the head of Wooden, who could only flick his header into the gloves of Murphy. The visitors were still on the front foot going into the half time interval as Andreas Robinson dragged wide whilst Finley Walsh-Smith headed over a corner under pressure, Hamworthy also creating a half chance after 44 minutes when Munn linked up with Billy Walker to scuff over his effort; the scores still goalless at the break.
Bell-Baggie drove over the crossbar from twenty yards upon the restart as the visitors had the lions share of the possession, but were pegged back on fifty five minutes as they were suddenly reduced to 10 men. A long clearance led to a mix-up within away defenders with Curtis Young breaking through on goal; his pace halted by O’Flaherty just outside the area for a straight last man red card. This forced a substitute from Borough as Wooden had to take over the goalkeeper role with tactical tweaks needed to consolidate after a debated red.
Gosport responded on 61 minutes as Harry Jewitt-White found space for a shot but fired inches over the bar from 20 yards after being fed down the right side, Rew heading over a corner as it bounced up to him after a small scramble within the penalty area five moments later. Down the other end Young’s low cross evaded the boots of a sliding striker at the front post and Munn’s headers from a corner was held by stand-in goalkeeper Wooden, whilst substitutions for both teams signalled a slight lull with the match approaching its last fifteen.
Frustration seemed to boil over for the players as a series of niggly tackles saw yellows across both teams in the last 10 minutes, the managers not wanting to draw and face a replay as the momentum shifted to attack. But other than a chance for Gosport as thier winger broke through the defence chasing a bouncing ball and was denied by Murphy running off his line to gather, both teams seemed to cancel each other out in midfield although Hamworthy piled on a series of crosses in the danger zone; scores staying 0-0 after stoppage time.
The two teams will face each other yet again on Wednesday with a 7:45pm kick off time at Privett Park, their next round opponents being known on Monday when the official full second qualifying round draw is made at lunchtime. Gosport then return to Southern League action versus local rivals and recent enemies Salisbury City, whilst Hamworthy will travel to Didcot Town in the FA Trophy; both sides hoping to maintain fairly similar records to the new season across their respective divisions following mixed preparations earlier this summer.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Late away chance is smothered by outrushing Hamworthy keeper as FA Cup tie ends goalless after ninety minutes as hosts battle to replay on Wednesday night (Privett Park).