“...suddenly there is hope and belief ”
When Tony Lee (pictured) put Gosport ahead as early as the third minute, few could have predicted it was the beginning of something very special for Alex Pike's side.
Few could have guessed that Boro' were about to end four months and 17 matches without a league win or that it would be done in style with four excellent goals and a clean sheet achieved for the first time since September.
Or, in fact that the icing on the cake would be a flawless display from the home side as they were always in control from the moment Lee's third minute header found the back of the St Albans net.
The win will inspire confidence and after several promising displays in recent matches had brought no reward, there was to be no repeat here. It was the best league performance of Gosport's campaign and although statistically it leaves them no better off due to Whitehawk's home win over Bishops Stortford, the momentum and confidence they will take out of it is critical going into Tuesday evening's home game against in-form Bath City.
Tony Lee's brace was added to by Joe Lea and Ollie Bailey and the visitors were left stunned. The win was no less than Boro' deserved but they remain five points adrift of safety with eight games remaining. Nevertheless, suddenly there is hope and belief.
The celebrations after Bailey's goal - Gosport's fourth - proved how much spirit remains amongst the players and supporters. It's onto Bath on Tuesday now and the Twerton Park side will present a tough test but Boro' will approach it in a far more positive frame of mind.
Josh Carmichael and Joe Lea both returned to the side after injury and illness respectively whilst Nick Jordan began his suspension for his dismissal at Margate last week, meaning a recall for Lewis Watch. Ollie Bailey also returned to the squad.
Gosport were ahead in the third minute when Tom Bird’s cross from the left hand side was nodded home by Lee. The opportunity was created by some good work from Pat Suraci with some excellent hold up play.
It was an encouraging start from the home side as they continued to play some attractive and free flowing football and create further chances. Ben Wright’s 26th minute free kick was deflected wide whilst on course for the top right hand corner of Russell's net.
Tony Lee did well to win the ball in the midfield and drive forward, spotting the run of Joe Lea to his right. Lea did the rest, taking the ball past two defenders and slotting home from a tight angle to double Gosport’s advantage. Soon the home supporters were in dreamland as Tony Lee added a second and Boro’s third.
St Albans were on the end of an ear-bashing from manager Ian Allinson during the break. He promptly made a change, bringing on Lucan for Gardiner. Gosport were in an unusual position - that of being ahead - and their tails were up. They started the second half with fluency and urgency.
The visitors tried to find a way back into the game but saw several promising moves break down in the final third and Gosport defended their lead. Ex Reading player Jamie Cureton came closest with a lob catching Lewis Watch off his line but the bar came to Gosport’s rescue as his carefully executed effort clipped the woodwork.
Josh Carmichael came off injured after being on the wrong end of a heavy challenge and was replaced by Lanahan. A clash between Lewis Watch and Sam Merson left the young goalkeeper needing treatment but able to continue as the game had a slightly physical edge.
Ollie Bailey made it game set and match with a fourth with four minutes to play. The substitute nipped in between two Saints defenders and tucked the ball home with a delightful finish before sprinting off to celebrate with the Gosport supporters.
It was a champagne moment and if Boro' do manage to survive come April 29th then this will be seen as the turning point of the season and rightly so.
GOSPORT: Watch, Dawson, Bird, Carmichael (Lanahan 63), Sanders, Oastler, Lea, Harding (Martin 86), Lee, Wright (Bailey 82) & Suraci. SUBS NOT USED: Brice & Grant.
ST ALBANS: Russell, Herd, Freestone, Robinson, Gardiner (Lucan 46), Saville, Lucien, Thomas, Walker (Tshikala 82), Noble & Cureton (Merson 69). SUBS NOT USED: Casey, Kerr.
REFEREE: Marc Whaley
Updated 17:39 - 19 Mar 2017 by Site Manager