Royals beaten in Borough friendly

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH continued their pre-season preparations as they entertained Wessex League side AFC Portchester on Wednesday night; coming out four-two winners on an overcast evening at Privett Park. But this did flatter Shaun Gale’s side as they were made to work hard for the victory in front of a respectable crowd, although individual performances will matter more than the result from this local derby in memory of Steve Woods and Ray Stainton; both individual club stalwarts who passed away during 2020 and 2021.

Gosport started the better as they created two chances in the opening 10 minutes; Dan Wooden firing over from range and Billie Busari placed his shot wide after being found in space through on goal against a static away defence. But it was Portchester who took the lead after twelve minutes as Aston Leigh broke through the midfield area and unleashed a shot from approximately 25 yards out, the ball nestling inside the bottom left corner past Patrick O’Flaherty; the last opening for a lengthy period as both cancelled each other out.

The drinks break seemed to spark the hosts into life as they equalised within sixty seconds of the restart as the ball was worked into the feet of Busari, who cut inside down the right with a fake shot before slamming home into the roof of the net on 28 minutes despite the best efforts of Sam Pearce on the goal-line. This was arguably the final notable chance of the first half as proceedings settled down, despite Tyler Gidding’s curling free-kick going wide and over the bar in the last kick of the 1st half following a harshly controversial decision.

The hosts began quickly upon the resumption as they took a narrow two-one lead after 51 minutes after Matt Briggs ran down the left wing at pace and played a great floated cross into the box; Ryan Woodford reacting quickest to the loose ball and converting past a diving Steve Mowthorpe as fans applauded the fast attacking move. And it soon became 3-1 as quick incisive tiki-taka passing down the wing found its way to the lurking Harvey Rew, who sent a first time curling effort low into the opposite corner through a crowd of visiting legs.

Substitutions and niggly injuries signalled a lull in proceedings either side of the hour mark before the visitors reduced their deficit; a defence-splitting pass finding Ryan Wilkins and he made no mistake in firing home underneath the outrushing keeper. But any hopes of a late Portchester comeback were ruined as Wooden restored Borough’s two-goal advantage, collecting a loose ball on the right to bring around the keeper before curling off the post from near the corner flag; the final 20 minutes proving quieter as the match petered out.

The victory means that Gosport have won three out of five pre-season games at Privett Park, with their next home match being the season opener against Merthyr Town on August 6. But they will play two more games away with a reverse fixture at Portchester next Tuesday before travelling to Fareham Town at Cams Alders on July 30. In contrast the Royals will host Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday afternoon before their second match against Gosport at home, whilst their league season will start on August 2 versus Cowes Sports, IoW.

PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS (JULY 2021): Gosport played Portchester for second straight pre-season.