Justin Bennett preserved Gosport’s unbeaten start to the season with a last-gasp leveller in a 1-1 draw at home to Didcot Town last night.
Borough looked set to suffer their first Southern League division one south & west defeat of the campaign until Bennett popped up with seconds left to bag a point for the hosts.
Gosport faced an uphill struggle when visitors Didcot sprung an early surprise by taking the lead, Ross Millar diving full length to meet a Phil John cross and head low into the net.
The hosts, without boss Alex Pike who was absent with the flu, responded immediately and better finishing would have brought them level, only for Bennett to twice bury efforts into the body of keeper David Lyons from close range.
Bennett so nearly made up for his misses on 20 minutes, picking out Nathan Kirby who went clear to bring a fine save from Lyons at his far post.
Flurry of activity over at one end, and Borough were forced to defend at the other as the visitors threatened to double their advantage before the interval, with John and striker Danny Seaward both going close.
As both sides trooped off at the interval, Borough’s Bennett picked up a yellow card for comments made to the referee regarding decisions not to his liking.
Borough came under the cosh early into the second half when Simon Howell cut a path through along the line before bringing a fine save from keeper Ryan Pryce at his near post.
On 55 minutes, Gosport’s hopes of getting back into contention was dealt a blow when Brett Poate – by far the best player on view –limped out of the game, to be replaced by former Moneyfields defender Owen Elias.
In an effort to give Bennett more support up front, Gosport sent on former Hawk Liam Sewell, a ploy which finally brought the hosts out of their lethargy.
Suddenly they began to look the better side, with probing runs from Sewell and Bennett causing Didcot’s defence problems for the first time. But, with just a point to their name from three previous league matches, Didcot survived the pressure and came back stronger in the final 10 minutes.
And although they did not add to their advantage, they never looked likely to travel home with anything other than all three points until Bennett managed to tuck home an equaliser seconds before the final whistle.
‘We left it late but, from our point of view, we kept plugging away and deserved to get something from the game,’ said Gosport president John Stimpson.
Gosport: Pryce, Jones, Poate, Cook, Molyneaux, Ford, Kirby, Jones, Chudy, Bennett, Wooden. Subs: Way, Cotton, Sewell, Elias, Hards.
Didcot: Lyons, Williamson, Halliday, Durrant, Stanley, Henderson, Howell, Heapy, Seaward, Millar, John. Subs: Keller, Yeulet, Tucker, Carr.