Alex Pike praised Gosport Borough’s fighting spirit after his side came from 2-0 down to snatch a share of the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 National League South draw with Whitehawk.
Having found themselves two goals behind – the second arriving from a controversial penalty award 10 minutes after the break – Borough staged an impressive late comeback with Justin Bennett and a fluke injury-time leveller from Rory Williams’ cross ensuring a deserved draw for the hosts.
In a dramatic finale, there was still time for Whitehawk’s Arnaud Mendy to receive his marching orders deep into stoppage time at Privett Park as hosts Gosport continued their unbeaten start to the season.
‘We showed again our never-say-die spirit after going two goals down,’ said proud Borough boss Pike.
‘At half-time, we thought we had got things sorted but then conceded a sloppy goal at the start of the second half.
‘It then took the injustice of the penalty to spark us into life.
‘That is the team spirit that we have in abundance here.
‘In the end, I felt we got what we deserved with Rory Williams’ late equaliser.
‘I am proud of my players and if I could bottle it up and sell it I would be a millionaire.’
Whitehawk looked the livelier of the two sides in the early stages with Scott Neilson seeing his low shot deflected past the post.
From the corner, home goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore had to punch a goal-bound header clear.
The home side’s best chance came in the 22nd minute when Justin Bennett had his shot deflected behind for a corner.
Whitehawk continued to push forward and Sam Deering forced a full-length save from Ashmore with a wicked dipping effort.
Borough showed greater urgency at the start of the second period but found themselves behind just three minutes in.
Neilson picked the ball up to the right of the area and worked his way across the front of the defence.
He wasn’t closed down and he crashed an unstoppable shot past Ashmore and into the far corner.
Four minutes later Borough fell further behind under contentious circumstances after Ashmore pushed away a long-range shot.
As the ball went loose Danny Mills went down under minimal if any contact from Ryan Woodford and the referee pointed to the spot.
Deering sent Ashmore the wrong way from the spot.
Borough got themselves back into the game on 71 minutes when Bennett capitalised on a mistake in the visitors defence to reduce the arrears.
In a dramatic finish, Williams levelled in injury time with a high cross that flew in at the far post.
There was still time for a nasty flare up that saw Whitehawk’s Mendy sent off.
After the game, Pike was left to rue referee Lee Venamore’s awarding of a penalty to the visitors – a decision he disagreed with.
He said: ‘No-one appealed for it and our player had no intention of making a tackle when he went across him.
‘It is a case of the referee knowing the law but not the spirit of the law.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Williams, Carter, Poate, Woodford, Dunford, Scott, Barker, Bennett, Wooden.
Subs: White, Wort, Ryan, Walker, Ramsey.