GOSPORT BOROUGH will not blame Ellis Martin for the mistake which cost them a win at Mangotsfield.
The former Pompey youngster felled Mangotsfield’s Karim Rendell in the box, seconds from full-time.
The penalty was converted by Lee Marshall to cancel out Borough’s goal from Craig Feeney.
Martin took full responsibility for his costly gaffe, but Borough assistant Mick Catlin said: ‘These things happen to the most experienced players at any level.
‘With the spirit we have here in the squad, Ellis will be given all the support he needs at this time.
‘It’s always easy to point the finger.
‘Yes, the mistake cost us, but we are still in the play-offs and results elsewhere, with Sholing losing, could still get us finishing in second place.’
Martin’s error would have been redundant if Borough had taken their chances earlier in the game.
Steve Claridge, Justin Bennett and Adam Wilde all wasted opportunities that they normally tuck away with a minimum of fuss.
At the other end, keeper Nathan Ashmore confidently dealt with anything that Rendell and his strike partner Mitchell Page aimed in his direction.
Even though Borough were without the usual backbone of their side – Lee Molyneaux, Gavin Jones, Brett Poate and Nathan Kirby – they still appeared to hold the trump card and on course for another victory on the road.
Recent-signing Feeney went route one through the middle on 59 minutes to flash a shot across Mangotsfield keeper Chris Astley into the far corner of the net.
Moments earlier, veteran striker Claridge had been substituted in favour of youngster Brady Norton.
And the talent quickly made himself busy to present Bennett with an opportunity to double Borough’s advantage.
But his goal-bound shot clipped the heel of a defender and looped up into the arms of Astley.
Late on, Norton showed his marker a clean pair of heels.
His powerful run took him to the edge of the Mangotsfield penalty area but Astley, somehow, blocked his effort.
Then it was Martin – by far the best Borough defender on the day – who took centre stage with his one-and-only mistake.
Catlin added: ‘We had much more of the play than they did and should have been two or three up by half-time.
‘Craig’s goal seemed to have put us where we wanted to be.
‘But that’s football. All the ifs and buts in the world won’t give us any more than a point from the match.
‘We might just as well put it behind us and look forward to the play-offs.’