GOSPORT BOROUGH will begin 2015 outside the play-offs after a missed opportunity against Concord Rangers.
Borough slipped out of the top five in the Vanarama Conference South as they were left fuming over referee Richard Hulme’s display in yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Privett Park.
Former West Ham midfielder Tony Stokes returned to haunt Alex Pike’s side in front of a crowd of 492.
Stokes left the bench in the second half to win the penalty which saw Gary Ogilvie cancel out Danny Smith’s 38th-minute opener.
That’s after he put Borough to the sword at the death in the corresponding fixture last season.
Borough were incensed by Radstock referee Hulme’s failure to send off Rangers’ Lewis Taaffe, for what they felt was a pre-meditated elbow on Rory Williams in the first half.
The hosts refused to use that as an excuse for not picking up three points.
But assistant boss, Mick Catlin, felt the referee made decisions which went against the Privett Park team.
Catlin said: ‘A few refereeing decisions have not gone for us.
‘Rory has been elbowed in the face, and the player has only got a yellow card.
‘It was quite remarkable really.
‘Everyone in the ground thought he was walking.
‘He turned and looked at Rory first and swung an elbow in his face.
‘The intent was clear because he looked at him first, but the ref felt that wasn’t the case.
‘In the second half, Nathan Ashmore’s slid in and the player has gone over his arm with the ball already out for a goal kick. The ref has given the penalty, though.
‘He’s had a bit of weird game but we can’t use that an excuse because we had the chances to win.’
Pike left Justin Bennett, and his 23 goals for the season, on the bench after the defeat to Hawks on Boxing Day.
Resting the hitman was looking to be a smart move as Borough had the better of it against Danny Cowley’s side.
Smith gave their pressure a tangible reward with his 25-yarder, which bounced over Rangers’ Arsenal loanee Josh Vickers in goal.
The game turned, however, on Hulme adjudging Ashmore brought down Stokes with 17 minutes left, as Ogilvie levelled.
Bennett and Dan Wooden were then introduced but it was Stokes who had a late chance to steal all three points for the visitors.
Borough had their opportunities to secure a win which would have taken them third in the table.
Catlin is keeping a failure to do so firmly in context, though.
He said: ‘They are a difficult side to play against.
‘But we were in control of the game and looking solid.
‘The thought of being third at the half-way point has maybe got some people a little carried away.
‘Then every time you don’t get a result it’s doom and gloom.
‘But this time last year we were second bottom and in the middle of a bad run.
‘We’ve progressed a long way and not been completely outplayed by anyone.
‘So there are a lot of reasons to be positive, while hoping the luck swings back our way at some point.’