Wooden: Borough have play-off nerve to triumph again

Dan Wooden has formed a productive strike partnership with Rory Williams in recent weeks
Dan Wooden has formed a productive strike partnership with Rory Williams in recent weeks
Baffins Milton Rovers found it tough against Portland. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Dan Wooden believes Gosport’s play-off success last season can help fire them to Blue Square Bet South.

The 22-year-old Borough forward grabbed the winner in Tuesday night’s 2-1 semi-final success at Stourbridge.

Wooden was part of the Gosport side that achieved promotion to the Southern League premier division last year after a dramatic extra-time win at Poole in the play-off final.

Now, with Alex Pike’s men going to Hemel Hempstead on Monday for another one-off match that could send them into the same division as the Hawks next term, Wooden feels Borough have the play-off know-how to come out on top.

Getting ready for the ‘biggest game of his career’, the in-form hot-shot said: ‘The way we have been playing, I am confident we can go on and win again.

‘Against Poole last year we scored in stoppage-time to force extra-time, before going on to destroy them.

‘So we know even if we go behind this time we are still in it.

‘That experience should help in what is bound to be another nervous occasion.

‘I am hoping to fare a little better this time around, though, because I had to come off after 10 minutes with broken ribs against Poole.

‘In this year’s semi-final we were losing at half-time against Stourbridge and it looked a long way back.

‘But in the second half we played them off the park.

Wooden, a scaffolder by day, added: ‘We have an excellent blend of youth and experience in our side and the team spirit is excellent.

‘Everyone gets on really well and we are good friends away from football. On the field we all fight for each other and want to do well.

‘I have always wanted to play at Conference South level and it would be great to do that next season with Gosport.’

From the age of five, Wooden played all his youth-team football with Moneyfields before moving to Privett Park in the summer of 2009.

He soon established himself as a regular member of the senior side, starting off on the left-wing.

Wooden played much of his second campaign at left-back but, in the second half of last season, he was moved up front with Justin Bennett.

When leading goalscorer Bennett was absent on honeymoon midway through this term, Wooden forged a new partnership with the returning Rory Williams.

The duo – who got the goals at Stourbridge on Tuesday – have proved so successful that Bennett has struggled to regain a regular place back in Gosport’s starting line-up.

With 14 goals already to his credit this season, Wooden is now eager to add to his tally in Monday’s crunch clash.

Gosport drew both of their encounters with Hemel Hempstead in the regular season and Wooden is predicting another close-fought affair.

He said: ‘Hemel Hempstead score a lot of goals but concede a fair few, too.

‘It should be an exciting occasion with a lot of Gosport fans expected to travel.

‘I am going to spend the weekend relaxing with family trying not to think too much about the game.

‘We have to go out and enjoy it when it comes around.’