It has been as far from a relaxing summer for Alex Pike and Gosport Borough as you could ask for. With sweeping changes on and off the pitch you could forgive the Boro' fans for admitting their heads were spinning and being justifiably worried about the future.
However, this evening a confident, new look Gosport team ended their pre season with a pleasing and hard working 2-1 home success against Salisbury setting up a very young squad nicely for Saturday's tough looking Southern Premier Division curtain raiser at Kings Lynn.
The come-from-behind performance, similar to the one against Bognor which also yielded a win, has given great encouragement on the eve of the new season. A display that saw many fine individual performances along with a solid collective one.
Goalkeeper Sam Gray made several superb saves to keep the South & West Division visitors out while Tyler Roche shone and Chinedu Vine (pictured) produced another bustling display. Credit too goes to Harry Medway for another assured display.
Pike's plans for the game and possibly for the weekend were disrupted by injury as both Rob Pittman and Alex Sanchese were forced off early on, allowing Jack Breed and Obi Sachi the chance to state their case for inclusion in Norfolk on Saturday.
The most encouraging aspect was that this was a mature display from a young side which missed Aaron Dawson (away attending a wedding), Luke King (returning to full fitness after a career threatening knee injury) and goalkeeper Nick Jordan (injured). When back, the experienced trio will undoubtedly add vital maturity to an already hard working and energetic team. The fact that this squad coped more than adequately without the calmness and assuring presence of that trio was pleasing.
The first half saw Salisbury have the better of the early exchanges. A few opportunities came and went with Francis surging into the area before steering his shot wide and into the side netting in the pick of the chances for Steve Claridge's team.
But Declan McCarthy's long range effort for Boro' needed to be tipped over by keeper Searle at the opposite end as Gosport had their say.
The second half was ten minutes old when the visitors went ahead. A delightful free kick from a wide angle from Shepherd left Gray with little chance as the Wiltshire side nudged ahead.
Within minutes Gosport were level as Tyrell Mitford coolly converted a penalty to open his account for Boro's after his summer move from Team Solent. This spurred Gosport onto greater efforts.
Alfie Lis hit the bar and Vine the post as the hosts rattled Salisbury's woodwork twice but the visitors were also lively, only being kept at bay by some inspired Sam Gray goalkeeping.
As the contest entered stoppage time, Roche had the final word with Max Smith's pace and graft rewarded in the last minute with Roche unleashing a long range effort which left Searle no chance and won the game for Gosport.
They now prepare for the long journey to East Anglia for a tough looking season opener at Kings Lynn on Saturday with confidence.
After some confidence sapping defeats at Baffins Milton Rovers and Bemerton Heath last month, many fans were beginning to fear it could be a long season. But back to back come from behind victories in two home games coupled with a new regime in place off the field has left all connected with Gosport Borough Football Club quietly confident that this team can survive in a tough division and finally move away from a torrid time off the pitch.
Time will tell.
GOSPORT: Gray, Sanchese, Leigh, Buse, Medway, Pittman, Roche, McCarthy, Mitford,Prezspolewski & Vine. SUBS: Breed, Kimber, Lis, Smith and Sachi
SALISBURY: Searle, Stanley, Perrett, Munday, O'Keefe, Wheeler, Herbert, Green, Shepherd, Francis & Morris. SUBS: Whelan, Colson, Hart, Tavares, Young, Benson, Gould and Brockway
REFEREE: Aaron Moody
Updated 08:20 - 9 Aug 2017 by Site Manager