Seagulls beaten by late Gosport winner

By Connor Steel / Photograph by Tom Phillips

IN THEIR first match-up since January 2020, Gosport Borough were victorious against Somerset-based Weston-Super-Mare  on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 win versus the Seagulls.

A late goal from Pat Suraci sealed the three points at an overcast Optima Stadium as Borough sealed their second victory of the season and first away from Privett Park, as well as bouncing back from a midweek defeat to Walton Casuals.

The result also ended WSM’s 100 percent record after the Seagulls had beaten Kings Langley and Merthyr Town in the opening games of the Southern League campaign.

After their 133-mile trip, Gosport were nearly caught out in just 30 seconds as a long ball by Scott Laird found Dayle Grubb, who turned his marker and advanced towards the box.

But luckily for the visitors, his powerful effort hit the base of the right post with Ipswich-loanee Albert White beaten. Down the other end Borough saw a succession of corners that ultimately came to nothing, although Joe Lea went on a surging run down the right side and fired towards goal. However his low angled drive was well saved by Seagulls keeper Luke Parnell at his far post and the ball was cleared away to safety after nine minutes

The attacking opening continued as WSM threatened again with both Lucas Vowles and Lloyd Humphries were blocked at source by stubborn visiting defending after 15 minutes, with Mike Symons heading wide after a great delivery by Jay Murray down the right. Then came a succession of Weston corners, with one being headed into the side netting by Scott Laird and another seeing Jason Pope nod harmlessly wide with a free header.

After a booking for Nicky Dembele and an injury stoppage Gosport saw several half chances in a matter of minutes around the half hour mark. Firstly Tarbuck found space down the left and played a low ball across to Elliot Wheeler, whose effort was tipped over the crossbar from 25 yards. Bradley Tarbuck then found space and cut inside but saw his effort curl wide and minutes later head wide from a Nicky Dembele corner with seven minutes left of the first half.

However Gosport’s best chance came on 41 minutes when Josh Huggins pinged a long ball into the feet of Dan Wooden via a flick from Joe Lea. But the striker’s shot from seven yards was tame and rolled into the grateful hands of the WSM keeper as away fans began to celebrate prematurely. The hosts then launched into their final notable chance of the half and they should have been ahead themselves; midfielder Lloyd Humphries drove through a backtracking Boro defence and saw Albert White off his line. His looping drive from 25yards smashed off the crossbar and the rebound was caught by the away keeper, with the referee blowing for the break to end an even half of football.

Weston made an attacking change as Nick McCootie replaced Mike Symons at the break, but this didn’t have an immediate impact in a cagey start to the second period. The hosts saw an effort by Jacob Jagger-Caine end up nearer the corner flag than on target in the 51st minute, but it was Boro who had the first clear-cut chance five moments later. Good hold-up by Theo Lewis won a free kick 25 yards out that was taken by Tarbuck, with the youngster’s effort being tipped wide of goal by the keeper

Number 8 won the ball off Josh Huggins and advanced towards goal, with a floated cross evading everyone and seemingly heading to the feet of McCootie, but the faintest touch from Wheeler diverted it for a corner. A head injury stoppage then disrupted the play for two minutes and changes for both sides as the clock ticked past the hour mark without further incident.

While little happened in terms of clear cut chances, Weston dominated possession and put a barage of crosses into the penalty area that were well dealt with by Gosport defenders, including determined blocks stopping Grubb, Humphries and substitute Ben Whitehead as the score remained goalless with just 15 minutes left to play. But with the home fans behind them, Weston should have scored when Nick McCootie run down the right and his floated cross evaded everybody as it hit the base of the far post.

The home side were made to rue these missed opportunities as Gosport took full advantage of a rare attacking move with just seven minutes left. A long ball looked to have been dealt with by Pascal Kpohomouh but the defender ran into Pat Suraci on the edge of the box. The substitute winger took control of the loose ball and fired a low effort into the bottom corner past the dive of Luke Parnell and sent the small Gosport contingent into celebration.

A crowd of over 600 tried to rally their Weston troops as Gosport looked to protect their hard-fought lead. Successive corners and shots were blocked by brilliant away defending, while good game management tactics were used to break up play; a ploy that worked after six minutes of stoppage time as Borough picked up their first away win of the season and even got the bonus clean sheet to accompany the three points.

Gosport will now have a quiet week off the pitch as they learn their FA Cup fate on Monday lunchtime, before on-the-pitch action returns to a bang over the Bank Holiday weekend. Privett Park will host the next Southern League encounter versus Chesham United next Saturday, before a third away trip of the season sees Boro travel to Hartley Wintney two days later as August concludes.