Pike feels for Borough troops after Merson double

Brett Poate equalised for Gosport Borough. Picture: Malcolm Wells (160903-0057)

Brett Poate equalised for Gosport Borough. Picture: Malcolm Wells (160903-0057)

Petersfield's Billy Connor. Picture: Malcolm Wells  t

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Gosport Borough were left heartbroken at St Albans City as a late goal condemned them to a 2-1 National League South defeat.

A vastly-improved performance on the road looked like earning Borough a well-deserved point at Clarence Park.

But two minutes into added time Sam Merson, son of Arsenal and Pompey hero Paul Merson, pounced to drill in a winning goal.

Alex Pike felt for his troops, who sank to their knees in despair.

‘It was particularly tough on the players,’ said the manager.

‘Before the game I said to them I didn’t want to leave anything out on the pitch and they didn’t.

‘It was our best performance away from home.

‘When you are away there will be spells when teams will put you under pressure.

‘But I thought we handled that and defended well.’

In an entertaining encounter Borough felt they did more than enough to come away with something from the game.

Both sides had chances before St Albans took a 23rd-minute lead when Matt Ball delivered a cross for the unmarked Merson to head home.

Borough weren’t behind long as they hit back to level just five minutes later.

Home goalkeeper James Russell denied Warren Bentley but from the resulting corner Brett Poate glanced his header into the net.

Both teams continued to create chances.

Borough keeper Martin Rice had to pull off a terrific double save to deny Louie Thephanous.

At the other end, Josh Carmichael struck the woodwork with a header.

Clear chances were harder to come by in the second half, although Merson flashed a volley wide.

Pike shuffled his pack on the hour mark – bringing on the experienced Adam Wilde and tenacious Mike Carter to replace the tiring Ben Wright and Carmichael.

Fellow substitute Ollie Bailey broke clear only to be denied by a good save from the St Albans goalkeeper.

With the game finely balanced, St Albans were awarded a penalty on 80 minutes following a challenge by TJ Cuthbertson.

Rice, however, produced a superb save to keep out Theophanous’ kick.

Pike added: ‘I felt the referee was conned for the penalty. Then at the other end an incident involving Dan Wooden was a stonewall penalty but it wasn’t given.’

Merson’s winner, following a goalmouth scramble, was therefore rough justice on Borough.

Pike praised his players’ spirit and determination but was quick to accept he had to look beyond the result.

‘The bigger picture is we conceded another two goals away from home which isn’t good,’ said the boss.

‘That is something we shall try to address.’

Gosport Borough: Rice, Cuthbertson, Bird, Dawson, Poate, Oastler, Carmichael (Wilde, 60min), Harding, Bentley (Bailey, 84min), Wright (Carter, 60min), Wooden

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