Gosport boss Gale delighted with ‘rugged’ performance from new-look Borough side at Chesham
Shaun Gale praised the performance of his new-look Gosport Borough as they opened their Southern League Premier South campaign with a battling 0-0 draw at Chesham United.
Borough goalkeeper Patrick O'Flaherty saved a second half penalty - his third spot-kick save inside a month - to preserve a point.
The visitors also went close in the first half when new boy Stepane Zubar hit the crossbar with an outrageous free-kick.
Borough included three reinforcements Gale had signed the day before - Nicky Bailey, Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and Zubar.
'I thought we produced a good rugged performance in windy conditions on a bobbly pitch,' said Gale
'The players I brought in are all quality, experienced performers and we needed men rather than boys coming to Chesham.
'They gave us a different dimension out on the pitch and gave us a big lift.
'At times we got the ball down and played some good football.
'On another day, with a little bit more quality in the final third, we could easily have come away with a win.
'Chesham are a good side who play a certain way.
'They go very direct and try to put you under pressure.
'Not many teams will come away from Chesham with anything this season.
'They, along with Truro City, are the favourites to get promoted so we have to be happy to come away with a point.'
Zubar, who last week announced he was retiring from football after leaving Weymouth, almost put the visitors ahead five minutes before the break.
After Borough were awarded a free-kick inside their own half, the former Plymouth and Bournemouth defender spotted the home goalkeeper off his line.
The ball sailed over the 'keeper but bounced back off the crossbar.
Chesham put Borough under some pressure at the start of the second half and were awarded a penalty just before the hour mark.
Josh Huggins was adjudged to have tripped Eoin Casey inside the area but O'Flaherty excelled to keep the spot-kick out of the bottom corner
It was his third successive penalty stop, having saved from Hampton & Richmond’s Sam Deadfield and Hawks’ Tommy Wright in pre-season.
'It was a soft penalty and it would have been a travesty if they had scored from it,' said Gale.
Borough substitute Aaron McCreadie saw a shot bounce off the legs of the home 'keeper and the visitors went close again late on - through ex-Sholing and Hamble Club striker Jordan Ragguette, a second half sub - but couldn't find a winning goal.
'How Jordan’s effort didn't go in I don't know,' said Gale.
In all, Gale started with seven new faces at a Chesham side who were second in the table last March when life went into lockdown.
Bailey and Zubar certainly provided extra experience. Released by Hawks back in the summer, Bailey turned 36 in June while Zubar is 34 next month.
Portsmouth-born Oxlade-Chamberlain, 22, has been without a club since leaving Notts County. He only started one National League game for the Magpies last season, at Eastleigh on the opening day, and later had a loan spell at Ilkeston Town.
Gale also handed competitive debuts to striker Elliott Charles, Dan Wooden, Brad Tarbuck and Pompey loanee Gerard Storey.
In addition, Ragguette came off the bench for Oxlade-Chamberlain while Aaron McCreadie, signed permanently after a loan spell in 2019/20, was another second half sub.
The only four survivors from last season’s squad were O’Flaherty, Rory Williams, Ryan Woodford and Josh Huggins.
Gosport are back in action on Wednesday with a long trip to Devon to face two divisions lower Tavistock in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.
They host Farnborough in their first home league game next Saturday.
Gosport Borough: O'Flaherty; Williams, Woodford, Tarbuck, Wooden, Bailey, Charles, Zubar, Huggins, Storey (McCreadie, 60), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Ragguette, 75).