Half-time rollicking helped Borough make final

Boss Alex Pike gave his Gosport side a few choice words during the half-time break at Stourbridge
Boss Alex Pike gave his Gosport side a few choice words during the half-time break at Stourbridge
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Alex Pike revealed a few choice words at half-time to his men proved the catalyst to Gosport’s play-off semi-final success at Stourbridge last night.

Second-half goals from Rory Williams and Dan Wooden saw Borough get the better of the team who finished 13 points above them in the Southern League premier table.

And having scraped into the play-offs at the weekend, Gosport are now just one win away from the Blue Square Bet South.

Standing in their way of a second successive promotion are Hemel Hempstead, who Borough go to in the one-off final on bank holiday Monday (3pm).

But they may not have got there had it not been for a half-time rollicking from boss Pike last night.

Gosport were way below their best in the first 45 minutes at Stourbridge, going in at the break 1-0 down.

And it needed some home truths from Pike to get them showing their true worth after the interval.

The Borough manager said: ‘I had a go at the lads at half-time and they did exactly what I wanted in the second half.

‘They knew what needed to be done. At 1-0 down, they knew it was crucial not to concede again.

‘We are ecstatic with the result. I feel sure that Hemel Hempstead won’t be looking forward to us going up there.

‘After all, we only just managed to make the play-offs and here we are now having beaten the side that finished as runners-up.

‘We just managed to creep into the play-offs and now we’re in with a chance of making the Conference South.’

Gosport started Ryan Scott for his debut after Dan Smith was ruled out with an injury, although Brett Poate passed a late fitness test to take over from Ellis Martin in defence.

From the start, Borough pushed forward looking for an early breakthrough, although they nearly got caught as the Glassboys raced to the other end, where Ben Mackey took a pass from Luke Benbow to test keeper Nathan Ashmore at his near post.

Solid defending saved Gosport again when the backside of Lee Molyneaux helped deflect Nathan Bennett’s goalbound effort wide of the post.

Benbow’s pace was causing the visitors problems and a run and cross set up Mackey who turned and blazed a left-foot shot well wide.

But on the half-hour mark the hosts snatched the lead as Paul McCone punted a free-kick from inside his own half into Borough’s penalty area. Jamie Brown failed to judge the flight of the ball, leaving Bennett with all the space he needed to ram a shot into the back of the net.

More pressure followed and Brown’s frustration got the better of him, earning a yellow card for a late challenge of Jordan Fitzpatrick.

Just before the interval Gosport were forced to make a change when Poate emerged from a tough challenge with a pulled hamstring, Ellis Martin taking his place.

Borough came out fired-up for the second half and Sammy Igoe created an opening for Adam Wilde who, off balance, volleyed wide.

Gosport’s leveller came on 57 minutes as Scott’s route-one pass through the middle set Williams free to fire an equaliser past Dean Coleman.

And before Stourbridge could regain their composure, Gosport struck again, this time Brown helping the ball on to Wooden who jinked free of his marker and drilled a left-foot shot high into the net.

For a period late on, the away side gave the impression the match was already won and several stray passes had skipper Lee Molyneaux demanding more effort from his side.

Stourbridge looked a beaten unit and devoid of ideas on how to get the equaliser.

They did, however, give it one final push and, before Gosport’s celebrations began, they had Ashmore to thank for two quality saves from Bennett.

Stourbridge: Coleman, Benbow, Oliver, McCone, Geddes, Bennett, Lloyd, Broadhurst, Mackey, Billingham, Fitzpatrick. Subs: Canavan, Dyson, Francis, Knight, Turner.

Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Woodward, Poate, King, Molyneaux, Brown, Igoe, Scott, Wooden, Williams, Wilde. Subs: Ender, Kirby, Wilson, Martin, Bennett.