Justin Bennett proved persistence pays with the perfect response to a nightmare day in front of goal as Gosport Borough eased into the FA Trophy first round.
The Borough talisman missed five excellent chances in the 3-0 win over Dorchester as Alex Pike’s side toiled in their efforts to underline their superiority against their Skrill South rivals.
But while other strikers may have written it off as one of those days, Bennett showed why he is now within four goals of becoming Borough’s all-time record goalscorer as he rose to net a looping header to make it 2-0, after Tom Dunford had drilled home the first-half opener.
The excellent Dunford added the third from close range moments after Bennett’s header to cap a fine individual display and secure Gosport’s place in today’s first-round draw.
It also meant a handy cheque for £4,000 for his club as reward for their progress.
But Bennett deserved his goal, even though he himself questioned if it would ever arrive.
The striker said: ‘I kept thinking that each chance that went by would be the last one I’d get.
‘I was probably a bit short of confidence and match sharpness going into the game.
‘I felt under pressure to come in and do well because I haven’t played in the past few games, so maybe it was a case of trying a little bit too hard. The one I did eventually score was probably the hardest of the lot.
‘It was just the case I didn’t have to think about it. The ball was in the air, I jumped and got on the end of it.
‘I saw it hit the net and it was just a massive feeling of relief.
‘Sometimes you just need that one where it’s instinctive, rather than thinking about it.’
Bennett blazed one gilt-edged chance over the crossbar early on after he was released by the outstanding Mike Gosney.
But the ex-Eastleigh man was then unlucky to see an angled shot clip the outside of the post.
He sliced his next chance horribly wide before half-time and when he missed two more after the break, other managers may have been tempted to put him out of his misery and bring on a substitute.
But Pike decided otherwise.
The Borough boss said: ‘I had to get him back in the side as he’s a natural goalscorer. Strikers just sometimes have those days.
‘But Justin keeps on getting into positions whereas a lot of strikers would have let their heads drop.
‘The game was close at 1-0 and it wasn’t broken, so didn’t need fixing.
‘We were still creating chances and with a striker like Justin, I knew he wouldn’t let his head go down.
‘He proved me right by scoring a great header.
‘Sometimes it comes down to gut instinct. I’ve got a big enough gut and a good instinct!
‘But if he does that every week and we win 3-0, I won’t be complaining.’
Bennett added: ‘During the game the lads were encouraging me to keep going.
‘I got a bit of stick in the changing room afterwards, though. They weren’t quite so supportive then!’
GOSPORT: Ashmore, Woodward, Forbes, Pearce, Poate (Hinshelwood, 63mins), Dunford, Brown, Smith, Gosney, Bennett, Sills. Unused subs: Barfoot, Wilde, Barton, Williams.