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Match Report - Salisbury FC v Gosport Borough

FB home size RecoveredCopyright Roger Elliott

Salisbury FC 0 Gosport Borough 2

Evo-stik South Premier South

Saturday, 6 April 2019

By Alec Hayter

We are into a new tax year, but that really is no reason why the Whites should tax the patience of their supporters as they undoubtedly did today in a defeat which has seen them hamper their chances of finishing in an advantageous play-off position.

People of a certain age (and there are quite a few amongst Salisbury fans) may remember a song which went "we're poor little lambs who've lost our way", and this just about sums up where we are at present - "poor" being the performance level for much of the game,  "lambs"  as in being led to  the slaughter of  3  wasted points, and, well, losing our way is what has happened in recent times, especially at home, with the exception of a none too convincing win over Farnborough Town.

This occasion should have been a mismatch between a side going for promotion and one fighting relegation, but it might have been difficult for a neutral to identify which team was which. Gosport approached the game in the correct manner and, in the end, thoroughly deserved to take the points, whilst the Whites huffed and puffed and missed some good chances, as well as, to be fair, having some bad luck.

Aaron Dawson, against one of his old clubs, was unlucky to see his volley dip just over from the edge of the box on three minutes, and then 16 minutes later with what turned out to be a lob that caused visiting keeper Pat O'Flaherty some difficulty in touching it over the bar, but for the first 38 minutes, we were mainly watching Gosport show surprising enterprise in attack.

On 7 minutes a Tony Lee cross gave Sam Lanahan a chance which was blocked and 6 minutes later Charlie Davis' corner went into the danger zone with Sam Roberts volleying over the top from close in when he really should have broken the net. After 23 minutes the impressive Ibra Sekajja found himself in front of goal from Harry Medway's pass but saw his effort deflected, and 2 minutes later another Davis corner saw Lanahan head well over the top.

At last, the Whites produced something going forward, with Lewis Benson's cross being headed unfortunately onto and not under the bar by Dan Fitchett. Two minutes before the interval a Chris Shephard corner found Elliot Wheeler, another former Gosport player, but he could not keep his header down, and seconds before the referee blew for the break, Fitchett got to the byeline and pulled back a delightful ball to Shephard who disappointingly missed the target high.

FitchettDan Fitchett's bar-bound header - Copyright Michael Berkeley

Not to be outdone, Gosport's Sekajja then cut in from the left and exercised Jake Hallett, who made a good stop to keep it scoreless after 45 minutes.

Nine minutes into the second half, the Whites produced what was their only good flowing move of the game, started by Bay Downing who moved the ball inside to Tom Whelan. Whelan, in turn, fed Shephard whose left foot blast was kept out by O'Flaherty with some difficulty, and hope sprang eternal. On the hour though, Benson's cross found Danny Young, who headed wide - a good chance gone.

YoungDanny Young's header disappointingly wide. - Copyright Michael Berkeley

Two minutes later Benson's fierce drive was parried by keeper O'Flaherty, the ball eventually finding its way to Jack Sparkes with time and space in front of goal, but the wingback sent a firm shot the wrong side of the upright - a good chance gone again.

SparkesJack Sparkes tries his luck - Copyright Michael Berkeley

Young then had a left foot effort blocked before the visitors took the lead on 66 minutes. Davis made the most of a freekick to loft the ball over the wall and into the corner very tight on the post, and all Gosport had to do from that point was to hold on to what they had, which has probably proved difficult for them in a difficult season, but hold on they did – and more. They were helped in no short measure by Elliot Wheeler's second yellow card on 70 minutes.

It was indicative of Salisbury's malaise when , two minutes later, there was no one present to take advantage of a searing Benson cross which defeated the whole of the Gosport defence, going across the face of goal, and with nine minutes remaining the Whites could have suffered further embarrassment when Sekajja found himself in the clear in front of goal but delayed, allowing his finish to be blocked.

With seven minutes of normal time left, the Salisbury defence parted obligingly as Ben Harding strode through the middle only to fire wide of the target, but that did not faze the visitors as three minutes into time added they got their second goal following box pressure which saw Hallett defy them with great saves on two occasions before being beaten on the third with Lanahan's close range finish. All credit to Borough for not just trying to see out the game.

Of all the teams vying for position at the top of the league, Salisbury appeared to have the easiest run in, but that's not the way it has worked out. Whilst the Whites were woeful today for much of the game, it must also be said that if Gosport had played in today's fashion all season, it is difficult to see why they languish near the foot of the table.

There are four league games remaining, with all but one of them against struggling clubs, and they need three points to book their play-off place. This should be perfectly achievable, and a return to the form of which we know they are capable should enable that, although maybe not in the optimum position to gain promotion.

And, by the way, for those of you not familiar with the song mentioned at the beginning of this report, the last three words are "bah, bah, bah" – my feelings exactly after 93 minutes today - or maybe the words were stronger!

Teams

Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing, Sparkes, Whelan, Partridge, Wheeler, Benson, Dawson, Fitchett, Shephard (Hopper 72), Young (Sommerton 75).

Subs not used: Mullings, Flood, O'Keefe.

Gosport Borough: O'Flaherty, Medway, Reid, Harding, Roberts, Casey (Byrne 86), Lee (Barker 31), Davies, McAllister (Pennery 64), Lanahan, Sekajja.

Subs not used: Tubbs, Hoare.

Attendance: 714                   Referee: C. Nzenga (Southsea)