GOSPORT BOROUGH 3
Football’s fine margins were perfectly illustrated on Tuesday night as Brakes had a point plucked from their grasp by Gosport Borough.
As play entered the first of four minutes of injury time, Liam Daly’s powerful header looked destined for the top corner to earn the hosts a share of the spoils.
However, visiting keeper Nathan Ashmore was again in the right place at the right time to cling on before launching a swift counter-attack which culminated in the scruffiest of goals and confirmed a second defeat in three for Paul Holleran’s side.
A point was the least Leamington deserved for a spirited second half which saw Ashmore emerge as man of the match.
But having allowed their visitors to open up a two-goal lead inside the first 22 minutes, Brakes were never allowed to settle into their rhythm in what was a frantic encounter.
Gosport arrived at the New Windmill having tasted defeat just once on the road this season and it was they who were to have the first sight of goal, former Portsmouth midfielder Sammy Igoe heading tamely over.
Lee Chilton produced a wild shot for Brakes before Gosport opened the scoring in the 17th minute.
The home side switched off at a throw-in, allowing Daniel Wooden to reach the byeline. His cross was missed by Daly and Justin Bennett had time to bring the ball down and smash it past Niall Cooper from eight yards out.
Tom Berwick should have equalised two minutes later. But, having latched on to a backpass, he got too much purchase on his lob and cleared both the exposed Ashmore and the crossbar.
A Berwick shot was then blocked for the first of two corners, the second of which led to Gosport doubling their lead.
Stephan Morley’s dead ball flicked off the head of a defender and one searching crossfield ball later, Bennett was haring down on Cooper’s goal. Emboldened by his opener, the striker delayed his shot to commit the Leamington number one and then coolly rolled the ball past the keeper and into the net.
Leamington thought they had a way back into the match when Matty Dodd appeared to be brought down by Ashmore after challenging for a high ball, but referee Robert Hodges waved away their protests.
However, in the 34th minute they did have their lifeline, Berwick showing composure to round Ashmore and slide the ball home after a superb defence-splitting pass from Chilton.
Brakes came out for the second period with more purpose, but aside from Berwick’s fierce drive 20 seconds in and a Jimmy Husband shot, they failed to test Ashmore.
Holleran had seen enough and, with half an hour remaining, hauled off Husband and Dodd to be replaced by Lee Moore and Alex Taylor.
Seconds later, Morley’s swerving free-kick was beaten away by Ashmore, with no one in a gold and black shirt able to latch on to the rebound.
Chilton somehow contrived to clear the crossbar from two yards out following fine work from Taylor on the right, while Berwick should have done better after finding space at the far post, only to smash the ball into the side netting.
Bennett flashed a shot across goal as Borough fashioned a quick counter, but Brakes were quickly back on the attack, with Berwick bringing out a superb save from Ashmore and Morley glancing the resultant corner wide.
A last throw of the dice by Brakes saw Daly pushed into a forward role, but Gosport were doing well to take the sting out of the game, with an injury to Ashmore allowing the visitors to catch their breath.
Ashmore was again in the thick of the action as play moved into time added on, getting his fingertips to another venomous strike from Berwick.
He then made his most important contribution as he plucked out Daly’s header from Moore’s corner before setting in motion Gosport’s third.
Adam Wilde was the provider, finding space on the left to deliver a cross which led to two shots being blocked before the ball eventually trickled over the line, with Wooden claiming the crucial final touch.
Brakes: Niall Cooper, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Matty Dodd (Alex Taylor, 61), James Husband (Lee Moore, 61), Tom Berwick, Lee Chilton, Richard Batchelor (Craig Owen, 89). Subs not used: Martyn Naylor, Dean Perrow.
Gosport: Nathan Ashmore, Luke King, Brett Poate, Tom Dunford, Lee Molyneaux, Sam Pearce, Sammy Igoe, Daniel Smith, Daniel Wooden, Justin Bennett, Asam Wilde. Subs: Daniel Woodward, Ellis Martin, James Ford, James Brown, Sam Wilson.