Challenge ahead for Gosport Borough as promotion-rivals Farnborough condemn them to second successive Southern League Premier South defeat
Shaun Gale believes he will now see the strength of character within his Gosport Borough squad after falling to defeat at fellow Southern League Premier South promotion-chasers Farnborough.
Boro made the dream start, taking a first-half lead through Rory Williams, but Paul Hodges' hat-trick - the second of which came from the penalty spot - wrapped up a 3-1 victory for the hosts.
For third-placed Gosport, it was a second successive league defeat after going down at home against Metropolitan Police on Saturday.
Prior to that, Gale's men had won seven of their opening nine league fixtures - losing just once in that run.
But after going down at Farnborough, who moved three points clear of Gosport in second with this victory, the Boro boss believes this will now show just how resilient his squad are.
Gale said: ‘It's disappointing, but it's a test of character now, we've got the young lads and the senior players and they've got to come together and stick together.
‘We've got a good group, we have got a really good group, it's easy to turn up when you're winning games - we've now lost two on the spin, it's not ideal - we didn't want to come and lose to one of our promotion-chasing rivals.
‘But no-one has won anything in October, their lads are coming off going, ‘get it on ice' in October – maybe that might be a bit premature – we'll see come the end of the season. That, for me, should be the driving force for our lads.
‘We'll stick and stay as we are, we've kept our feet on the ground, we haven't got carried away with our start and we won't get carried away with our losses. We're disappointed and we need to improve.’
After a couple of earlier scares, Williams was on hand to finish off a well-worked move to hand Boro the lead on 25 minutes.
Prolific Farnborough forward Hodges curled home 11 minutes later as it was 1-1 at the break.
Gosport's Dan Wooden was brilliantly denied by Dante Baptiste in the hosts' goal a minute after the restart before the game's big talking point arrived.
Boro's Ipswich loanee stopper Bert White was adjudged to have upended Josh Fawole in the area, with Hodges slotting home the resulting penalty on 53 minutes - although Gale felt it was 'never' a spot-kick.
Hodges then completed his hat-trick 10 minutes later to take his league scoring tally to 11 for the season as Farnborough claimed all three points.
Gale added: ‘I think the disappointment was - there were key turning points in the game - we had the ball then gave it away and they get their equaliser from a deflected shot - they'd hit the bar before that and Bert (White) made a great save.
‘We went 1-0 up through a great goal and we managed them to a degree, they've got some great players, but we managed them well.
‘We nearly go 2-1 through Dan Wooden after half time then a nothing ball - I haven't seen it again, but I still say it's never a penalty - the lad toes it past Bert and he's not even made a meal of it but the referee gets sucked in and gives the penalty.’