Gosport Borough 3-1 Bath City
By Kevin Porter
The exertions of their two FA Trophy quarter final ties with Dover Athletic appeared to catch up with Bath City as they fell to their second defeat of the season to Gosport Borough at a soggy Privett Park.
City rested Dave Pratt to avoid a further caution that would see him suspended for the 2nd leg of the upcoming FA Trophy semi final with North Ferriby United, which meant that Andy Watkins was due to partner Ross Stearn upfront. However, the plan was necessarily changed just before kick off when Watkins picked up an injury in the warm up, and Nick McCootie was named in the starting eleven.
The opening half proved largely scrappy, with both sides frequently giving the ball away on a difficult surface. The balance of play was fairly even, but the home side generated more opportunities in front of goal. The first chance fell to Danny Smith in the 3rd minute, but his shot flew so high and wide that it sailed over the perimeter fence and deep into the playing fields beyond.
Neither side were able to generate any momentum and it took City 15 minutes before their first attempt at goal, in the event Naby Diallo’s scuffed shot from 25 yards passed harmlessly wide.
There was one minor scare for the hosts when Andy Robinson’s ill-directed back pass required keeper Nathan Ashmore to chase the ball towards his own goal, but the keeper calmly averted the danger.
Gosport were enjoying the slightly better of possession, and Jason Mellor made a good low save to keep out Justin Bennett’s first time shot on 26 minutes. Left back Rory Williams then drove towards the City goal with a forceful run, but succeeded only in shooting into the outside of the side netting from a useful position.
It was marginally against the run of play, therefore, when the visitors took the lead in the 35th minute. Diallo found Ben Adelsbury in midfield, who delivered a beautifully weighted pass into Stern’s path. The forward raced clear of the Borough defence, and planted the ball into the top corner of the net with an emphatic finish as Ashmore rushed from his line.
City had a good chance to extend their advantage two minutes later when McCootie laid the ball off to Frankie Artus, and the midfielder’s firm rising shot was pushed round the near post by Ashmore. The resulting corner was partially cleared, but Andy Gallinagh’s effort from 30 yards was high and wide.
As half time approached, Mellor plucked Bennett’s header out of the air following a corner, and then Matt Paterson shot wide from the edge of the box.
The second period began disastrously for City as Gosport drew level within a minute. Paterson found space down the inside left channel and Mellor did well to divert his shot on to the post, only for the unlucky Gallinagh to help the ball over his own goal line.
It was a blow that clearly took the wind out of City’s sails, as the home side looked much more threatening playing down the slope. Mellor saved at his near post from Paterson, and did exceptionally well to gather the deflected follow up shot.
The pressure finally told on 56 minutes when Borough took the lead in fortunate circumstances. Ashley Kington’s challenge fell kindly to the unmarked Paterson, who had the easiest of tasks to slot into the far corner of the net, for a goal that bore striking similarities to Dover’s opening strike at The Crabble last Saturday.
The home side were now well in the ascendancy and they looked to kill off the game. Dan Wooden chipped just over the crossbar from the edge of the box, but Smith’s attempt from 20 yards on the hour mark was so wayward that it found the distant neighbouring rooftops.
City were struggling to make any impression on the Gosport defence, and it was the hosts who remained the more likely to add to the scoreline. Wooden fired over Mellor’s bar from the edge of the area, and on 68 minutes, Bennett found space in the box only for his shot to be deflected wide.
Chas Hemmings came on for Artus as Bath tried to gain a foothold in midfield and, with 20 minutes left on the clock, Stearn’s firm shot from 20 yards flew straight at Ashmore. At the other end, Tom Dunford blazed over the bar from a good position, but City almost found an equaliser in the 79th minute. Adelsbury put McCootie through on goal, but Ashmore did well to block the forward’s shot. The loose ball bounced upwards, but fell kindly back into the prone custodian’s hands.
Pat Keary replaced McCootie for the final ten minutes and played in an unfamiliar forward role. His strike partner, Stearn, again shot straight at Ashmore on 82 minutes, and this proved to be City last chance.
Deep into stoppage time, Kington’s errant cross-field ball was collected by Wooden, who took full advantage by advancing goalwards and drilling the ball into the bottom corner of the net beyond Mellor’s dive.
This was a seemingly tired performance by City following the exhilaration and high drama of Tuesday evening. The side appeared relatively comfortable before the interval, but Gosport took control thereafter. The nature of the first two goals was unfortunate, and duly took their toll on some tired legs. The management now have the task on ensuring that their side are ready for the rigours of the week ahead, which begins when Farnborough visit Twerton Park on Tuesday evening for a Vanarama Conference South encounter.
GOSPORT BOROUGH – Nathan Ashmore, Paco Saez, Rory Williams, Andy Robinson, Brett Poate (River Allen 24), Sam Pearce, Tom Dunford, Danny Smith, Matt Paterson, Justin Bennett, Dan Wooden. Subs not used: Andy Forbes, Matt Butcher, Lee Wort, Steve Ramsey
BATH CITY – Jason Mellor, Sekani Simpson, Andy Gallinagh, Phil Walsh, Dan Ball, Ashley Kington, Ben Adelsbury, Nick McCootie (Pat Keary 80), Ross Stearn, Naby Diallo, Frankie Artus (Chas Hemmings 67). Subs not used: Chris Allen, Jim Rollo
Referee – Sam Purkiss (London)
Attendance – 509
Full set of pictures from Keith Fuller can be found here
Full highlights from Gosport Borough’s Youtube channel: