PAT Cox’s first-half strike earned play-off-chasing Gosport Borough a valuable 1-0 win over Cinderford Town in the Southern League division one south & west.
But it was goalkeeper Mark Brown who earned rave reviews at the final whistle last night after his show of force kept Borough’s promotion dreams alive.
He came to the Privett Park side’s rescue on numerous occasions – most notably in the first half – to frustrate the visitors and ensure a vital clean sheet for Alex Pike’s side.
It was a performance not lost on club chairman Mark Hook, who was full of praise for his goalkeeper’s performance.
‘The important part of the game was the fact that we kept a clean sheet and took another three points,’ said Hook.
‘Our goalkeeper Mark Brown was outstanding and we owe him a great deal for his part in our win.
‘We have a massive task ahead of us if we are to get back amongst the teams vying for the play-offs.
‘But anything is possible, so I don’t think we can be written off just yet.’
The visitors were quickly out of the blocks and a neat move saw Nick McCootie fire his shot into the side netting.
McCootie was proving a real handful for the home defence but, fortunately, his shot selection let him down again when he eased through unchallenged before blasting wide.
Gradually, Borough came into the game with a fine move that so nearly gave them the lead. But Pete Castle’s rocket from the edge of the Cinderford area flashed past the post.
Brown was the busier of the two keepers, with his handling the highlight of an otherwise disappointing opening half.
And with the interval in sight, Brown dived at the feet of McCootie to deny the striker from opening the scoring.
The save proved critical as Borough broke to the other end, where Pat Cox let fly with a shot that raced past Cinderford keeper Ben John and into the back of the net.
Early in the second half, Borough midfielder Jamie Ford limped out of the fray, with Aaron Cook coming off the substitutes’ bench to add his experience to the defence.
And almost before Cook had time to settle, Cinderford wasted two glorious chances to equalise – first when Dan Haines blasted over and then when Andy Lewis followed suit from six yards out.
Once again, Borough came racing back and Cook squandered a wonderful chance to double the home side’s advantage by shooting straight into the arms of keeper John.
Frustration soon crept into Borough’s play and both Dave Birmingham and substitute Nathan Lynch earned themselves yellow cards for clumsy challenges.
Late on, and with Cinderford pushing for an equaliser, Cook did well to head the ball behind and concede a corner rather than allow Leon Jeanne the easiest of tasks of tucking the ball past Brown for a last-gasp equaliser.