By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH’S lingering play-off hopes are officially over following a three-one defeat against Somerset-based outfit Weston-super-Mare on Saturday afternoon, the Seagulls getting the result they ultimately deserved after a professional away display at Privett Park. But in glorious spring conditions it was a poor performance from Shaun Gale’s side as they struggled throughout, except for a fifteen minute spell that raised hopes of a brilliant second half comeback in front of 555 fans before a final goal killed the match.
Weston-super-Mare started the brighter in glorious conditions with the first chance on three minutes as the ball was worked into Sonny Cox in space; his shot deflecting into the path of Dayle Grubb who fired just wide with the goal gaping. The visitors didn’t let this missed opportunity affect their neat attacking play as they saw Grubb have two shots blocked and Scott Laird drive wide; the only attack for Gosport in the opening fifteen seeing Harry Kavanagh’s cross flicked by Matt Paterson into the gloves of away keeper Max Harris.
The visitors continued to dominate as Marlon Jackson drove into the box with pace and scuffed a shot wide under pressure, before he forced home goalkeeper Fynn Talley into a low save from Scott Laird’s fine pass on 21 minutes. Weathering this pressure Gosport responded with shots from Luke Hallett and Ryan Pennery flying harmlessly over the crossbar, before a lull in play saw a quick boot change for a Gosport player as the game passed the half hour mark without any notable attempts despite corners for both sides.
On thirty-four minutes Weston-super-Mare took the lead with a fine team goal as Grubb played a clever reverse pass into the feet of Cox, who held his run to perfection to peel off his marker before firing home a first time finish into the top corner. Another chance came as Keiron Thomas’ cross was headed safely into the gloves of Talley by Laird, but the Seagulls weren’t to be denied for long as they doubled their lead on 44 minutes. It started from a deep out-swinging corner that found Jason Pope on the edge via a deflection, who teed up Jackson to smash home from 25 yards in the last action before the break.
Gosport made two substitutions upon the restart with Bradley Tarbuck and Seokjae Lee making an immediate impact down either wing, something that helped the hosts reduce the arrears on fifty-three minutes after Elliott Wheeler saw his shot blocked at source by a defender. A long ball was played down the left channel to find Paterson who cleverly chipped an angled first time effort over the outrushing Harris into the bottom corner with a fine first time finish that included just one bounce before crossing the line.
Buoyed by this goal the hosts nearly equalised just before the hour mark as Kavanagh broke down the right and played a fine cut-back pass into the feet of Lee six yards out, whose side-footed effort was brilliantly saved by Harris flinging himself to his side to claw away. And this was a missed chance that Weston-super-Mare punished on 63 minutes when they scored their third; a mistake letting Jordan Bastin through the defence at a tight angle and although his shot was parried, Jackson was lurking at the back post to tuck into the unguarded net with a calm side-footed effort that he simply couldn’t miss
This third goal halted all momentum from Gosport just as they were looking good, although to their credit didn’t crumble in the face of the visitors; who absorbed a lengthy spell of home possession as they prevented any openings. Borough’s last chance came between two away substitutions as Tarbuck curled a dangerous free kick wide from 25 yards on seventy-nine minutes, whilst Nick Mccootie and Bastin went close down the other end in the last few moments; but in truth the last five minutes saw little action as the game drifted towards its inevitable conclusion after stoppage time.
These hard-fought three points mean Weston-super-Mare sit fifth in the Southern League table and need Gosport to beat Chesham United next Saturday if they are to maintain their play-off dreams in the final two weekends of the season. For Shaun Gale’s men it will be a busy weekend as they travel to Buckinghamshire before returning to Privett Park on Easter Monday (April 18) as they play their last home game of the campaign against Salisbury; the previous two games against ex-Borough player Steve Claridge’s side proving to be feisty affairs this season.
PICTURED BY TOM PHILLIPS: Borough players despair as Weston-super-Mare celebrate scoring their second goal just before the half time interval in clinical and professional display at Privett Park.