By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH bounced back from their weekend away defeat against Weston-super-Mare as they hosted Swindon Supermarine on Wednesday evening, beating Lee Spalding’s team 3-1 in a fair but physical encounter at Privett Park. Home striker Harvey Bradbury made the difference in front of a crowd of over 640 supporters as he scored two second half goals following an even opening 45 minutes, helping Shaun Gale’s side claim the points and capping a successful ending to their first midweek match of the 2022-23 campaign.
It was a cagey start from both teams in the opening ten minutes with little attacking action at either end, poor passing and niggly tackles breaking several promising moves. It took until the twelfth minute for the first clear chance as Danny Hollands’ cross evaded everybody inside the penalty area, whilst Swindon looked a threat as Henry Downing’s shot won a corner down the other end. And following a slightest deflection they scored a goal in the sixteenth minute from another corner, the delivery headed home easily by a rising Harry Williams.
In response Gosport saw spells of possession that ultimately failed, frustration building at all three officials as Harry Jewitt-White was booked for a misjudged foul that left Tom Sharpe needing minor treatment. But it was however Swindon who were creating the better openings as George Dowling’s corner had to be forced away by Patrick O’Flaherty, whilst Williams went close to adding his second with a low drive and good quick-witted footwork from away winger Zackariah Kotwicka released James Harding whose shot was blocked at source.
The hosts seemed to enjoy brilliant attacking momentum after the half-hour with Abdulai Bell-Baggie looking particularly troublesome, loud appeals being turned down for a penalty as he broke towards the by-line. But Gosport used this building frustration as a spark and levelled on their next attack in the thirty-ninth minute as Bell-Baggie released Jewitt-White down the left, the debutant’s powerful effort hitting the far top corner past the stretched hands of Swindon keeper Connor Johns to send a buoyed Privett Park into the half time break.
Although Swindon saw Lewis Hall create a fruitless attack down the right the hosts started in control after the interval, dominating the ball with patient possession but were denied by physical fair defending led by Tyrone Duffus. The first chance of the second period came just before the hour as a cross was only half-cleared into the path of Harry Kavanagh, whose drive from 25 yards whistled over by mere inches; Sharpe booked just 5 minutes later as he frustratingly blocked the taking of a quickly-worked home free kick near the centre-circle.
Down the other end Swindon were still looking dangerous on set pieces as a deep free kick found the lurking Williams, whose effort deflected kindly into the gloves of O’Flaherty. In response Kavanagh fed Jewitt-White in space with his touch well saved by Johns, but Privett Park was erupting with twenty minutes left to play as Gosport took an arguably deserved lead. It came from a corner down the right that was floated into the near post, Harvey Bradbury rising highest to convert a header into the bottom corner to make the scores two-one.
Substitutions for both sides signalled a slight lull with a harsh booking for Harvey Rew the only notable action leading to the 85th minute, which saw the last real opportunity for Swindon as Bradley Hooper fired wide from an angle after being found in space. And there was still further action to come in added time as Issiaga Kaba sprinted into the penalty area and was fouled for a Gosport spot-kick after 94 minutes; which was dispatched by Bradbury down the middle off the crossbar with the last notable kick to seal this hard fought home victory.
Gosport sit seventh in the table with two wins and a defeat so far, being level with other teams in the play-off places at this early stage of the season. And victory on Wednesday was a welcome confidence boost before three tough games in succession, which starts with a trip to Chesham United on Saturday. The side will then host Plymouth Parkway on August 27 (kick off at 3pm) and are scheduled to make a short trip to Winchester on Bank Holiday Monday; whilst the FA Cup dream will start on September 3 with opponents not yet known.
PICTURED BY GOSPORT BOROUGH FC: Harvey Bradbury celebrates after scoring highly crucial goal as his team beat Swindon Supermarine at a respectably busy Privett Park on dry overcast Wednesday evening.