‘Professional’ Borough back in play-off places

Dan Wooden   Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Dan Wooden Picture: Ian Hargreaves
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Alex Pike praised the professionalism of his Gosport Borough players as they forced their way back into the Vanarama Conference South play-off places with a dramatic 3-2 win at Hayes & Yeading last night.

After a goalless first half, two Dan Wooden goals put the visitors in charge.

The hosts pulled a goal back through a Christian Smith free-kick but Justin Bennett replied almost straight away from the penalty spot.

In a frantic finish Borough had goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore sent off and Smith smashed his free-kick past stand-in keeper Sam Pearce.

Pike said: ‘We produced a professional performance to pick up a big three points.

‘It is a third win on the bounce and, more importantly, our first on the road for a while.

‘We are now at the business end of the season and this takes us back into the top five.

‘At this stage it is all about winning matches and keeping the momentum going.

‘The final scoreline doesn’t reflect the game because we had the lion’s share of possession and I didn’t feel we were ever under any threat.’

Borough had midfielder Mike Carter back after he served a six-match suspension.

The game started in a scruffy fashion on the heavily-sanded surface at Hayes & Yeading’s adopted home at York Road.

Pike’s side went close on 15 minutes when Bennett forced home goalkeeper Callum Kitcher into a sprawling save to keep out a terrific shot that was dipping under the crossbar.

In a quiet opening period, Wooden got in behind the home defence and delivered a terrific cross but Bennett couldn’t capitalise on the chance.

Borough made the perfect opening to the second half, though, taking the lead five minutes after the restart.

Rory Williams drove in a terrific cross to the far post, where Wooden forced the ball over the line with a header.

And the visitors tightened their grip on the contest in the 71st minute, extending their lead with a second Wooden goal.

The midfielder found space to the right of the area and his low drive flew into the bottom corner of the net, although the stretching Bennett may yet claim to have got a touch.

Within a minute, though, Smith reduced the arrears with a free-kick that went over the defensive wall and in off the underside of the bar.

The drama continued when, almost immediately, Wooden was flattened inside the Hayes area to earn Borough a penalty.

Bennett made no mistake from the spot to restore Borough’s two-goal lead.

In a tense finale Borough had Ashmore sent off after he was adjudged to have handled the ball outside the area.

With no goalkeeper on the bench, central defender Sam Pearce had to take over for the final few minutes.

From the resulting free-kick Smith gave the stand-in keeper little chance to bring his side back into it.

After watching his side see the game out, Pike confirmed that Borough will be appealing Ashmore’s dismissal.

He said: ‘We will be appealing against the sending off of our goalkeeper for allegedly handling the ball outside the area.

‘I have looked at the DVD and Nathan is clearly inside the area.

‘I have to be happy to come away with a win on a poor pitch against a team fighting for their lives to keep out of trouble at the wrong end of the league.’

GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Forbes, Pearce, Robinson, Williams, Smith, Ramsey, Dunford, Wooden, Bennett, Paterson, Butcher, Wilde, Carter, Wort, Saez