After shattering away defeats at Wimborne and AFC Totton, Alex Pike’s Gosport Borough renewed their slim hopes of promotion with a 3-1 Privett Park victory against Clevedon Town on Saturday.
And with home matches against Cinderford tonight (7.45pm) and North Leigh on Saturday, maximum points could take Borough back just short of the top six clubs vying for promotion via the end of season play-offs.
In truth, relegation threatened Clevedon never posed a threat after Borough had blitzed them with a two-goal salvo in the opening 25 minutes.
Pat Cox thundered in a free-kick from distance before the impressive Tom Price finished a fine move with a devastating finish from close range.
Cox deservedly earned himself the man-of-the-match award for a display that was arguably his best yet in Borough’s colours, always making himself available in defence and occasionally using both speed and muscle to forge a path along the line to create openings for both Justin Bennett and James Taylor.
Early in the second half Borough struck again, thanks to Taylor’s superb cross that left Bennett the opportunity of sidestepping Clevedon keeper Jason Mellor and thumping the ball into an empty net.
Moments later, and with Clevedon seemingly devoid of ideas on how to stem the flow of Borough pressure, Bennett struck again, though a dubious offside decision ruled out what possibly would have been the best goal of the match, such was both the finish and the inventive nature of the move that created the chance.
With the match effectively won, Borough took their foot off the pedal. Keeper Mark Brown was forced into a couple of point-blank saves to deny Clevedon striker Reeko Best before Jonny Moss did manage to pull a goal back.
That left boss Pike to take the blame firmly on his shoulders for hauling off central defender Pete Castle a few minutes earlier.
‘I made the wrong decision to take Pete Castle off, foolishly I listened to others in the dugout rather than speaking directly to him regarding a possible injury,’ said Pike.
‘In fact he wasn’t injured and had he still been out there then I feel Clevedon wouldn’t have been given the chance to grab a consolation. The result was well deserved but in future, unless I ask for advice, I plan to turn a deaf ear to anything else.’
Borough life president John Stimpson said: ‘After a couple of awful results, we needed to show our competitive edge and three points were necessary to keep our hopes alive.
‘Having Justin Bennett back from his loan spell is a massive boost and his partnership with James Taylor should bring us the goals to win us more matches than we lose.
‘We’ve lost ground on the teams above us but, if we put a decent run of results together, there’s still a chance we could be up there where it matters.’