Gosport Borough boss Alex Pike praised his side’s fighting spirit after they booked their place in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Goals from Justin Bennett, Ellis Martin and Dan Wooden in nine second-half minutes saw the Privett Park side come from behind to defeat Blue Square Bet South visitors Bath City 3-1 in last night’s third qualifying round replay.
It’s a win that provides Borough with a real chance of facing Football League opposition in the first-round proper, with Pike’s side due to face Southern League division one Slough in the next stage.
And the boss congratulated his side for setting up such a possibility as they continued their love affair with the Cup.
‘There was a real buzz about the place, and quite rightly so when you come back against a team of Bath’s stature,’ said Pike.
‘Our three goals in nine minutes took the game away from them.
‘All of a sudden all the confidence and belief flowed through the team.
‘Our ball retention and decision-making was superb and Bath were left with nowhere to go.’
Borough nearly got off to the worst possible start when Sean Canham should have put the visitors ahead on eight minutes.
He found himself in a good position in front of the Borough goal but fired wide.
Canham then forced goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore into a solid block with another angled effort soon afterwards.
Borough went close to breaking the deadlock themselves on 16 minutes through Sammy Igoe.
Wooden found Igoe with a good header and the attacker turned inside two defenders before firing in a low shot. The diving keeper was beaten but the ball smacked back off the foot of the post.
Ashmore pulled off a good save to tip a Gethin Jones header around the post.
Their joy was short-lived, however, as, from the resulting 27th-minute corner, Bath took the lead.
When Borough failed to clear, the ball fell to Canham who rifled in via the underside of the bar.
All the home side could respond with before the break was a deflected free-kick from Brett Poate which ran harmlessly through to the keeper.
The visitors continued to look lively at the start of the second half and Kurtis Guthrie ballooned a shot over from the edge of the area. But Borough weathered the early pressure and hit back on 53 minutes to level through Bennett,
Martin arrowed a free-kick into the area and when it was headed on, Bennett arrived at the far post to nod home.
Two goals in four minutes then put Borough in dreamland.
The home side powered in front on the hour mark when Martin drilled home a 30-yard free-kick.
Four minutes later, Gosport forged even further ahead when Bennett’s shot was pushed out by the goalkeeper and Dan Wooden knocked in the rebound.
Bennett then did superbly well to turn inside his defender on the byline and crash in an acute angled shot which the keeper acrobatically turned over.
In the final minutes, Danny Smith powered in another long-range effort which was punched away and Bennett drifted another low shot just past the far post.
Gosport: Ashmore, Woodward, Martin, Brown, Molyneaux, Poate, Igoe, Smith, Wooden, Bennett, King. Subs: Ford, Wilde, Norton, Cook, Stow, May.