A touch of class and a large portion of fortune were enough to see Alex Pike’s Gosport Borough come through an absorbing challenge to earn all three points in a 2-1 Southern League victory against Mangotsfield at Privett Park.
Making the headlines once again was former Pompey striker Steve Claridge, who stole the honours with a 90-minute display that delighted the home supporters.
He scored a superbly-taken equaliser from the edge of the area after the visitors had taken an early lead when Marcus Duharty beat keeper Nathan Ashmore from close range.
Midway through the second half, and just when it seemed everything Borough created would earn them only a point, Claridge and Justin Bennett linked up well to set up Nathan Kirby, who saw his goalbound effort handled in the area – and up stepped Adam Wilde to net the winner from the penalty spot.
To their credit, Mangotsfield refused to throw in the towel and came charging back with Mitchell Page sending a header thumping against the Borough crossbar – with Ashmore catching the ball as it rebounded back into play.
Even then Borough continued to enjoy the rub of the green, particularly when Duharty got in behind Aaron Cook and looked favourite to beat Ashmore, only for the long left leg of Brett Poate to steer the ball behind at the expense of a corner.
Just before the final whistle, Mangotsfield finally had to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t to be their day.
Page fired a shot against a post and, as the ball rebounded back into the penalty area, Duharty was left in despair as his well-struck effort was cleared off the line by Lee Molyneux – and Borough had survived to take the points.
‘I think it showed how far we have come as in the past we would have gone under and lost the match,’ said chairman Mark Hook.
‘Things are different now. We have quality in our ranks and there is no substitute for that.
‘Again, Steve Claridge showed his pedigree and everyone else lifted their game as a result.
‘And yes, we really needed the three points to get our league season back to where it should be.
‘Our attitude to keep battling away to the final whistle earned us the points.
‘And now we can look forward with confidence to our FA Trophy match against Godalming Town this coming Saturday.’