It had to be him. It just had to be him.
With just a few minutes of this Southern League Cup tie, Gosport were leading 2-1 against Moneyfields in what had been a lively local derby in the Big Freebet Cup.
They had played well and could rightly argue they deserved a morale boosting win afer goals from Kurt Watts and Iffy Onuwauchu, coupled with some inspired goalkeeping from the returning Lewis Watch had as good as put Gosport into the second round draw.
However, leaning up against the railings for much of the game chatting to friends, team mates and club colleagues, was former Gosport Borough skipper Sam Pearce.
Pearce (pictured above) had enjoyed a successful four-year Gosport career but left the club last autumn as Boro's financial crisis truly began to unfold. He left after a painful 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelmsford and moved onto Farnborough before linking up with Moneyfields for this season.
The draw for the Big Freebet Cup had handed him and other former Gosport colleagues the chance to have the last laugh at the expense of their former employers.
However, of that number, only Pearce had a place in the Moneys squad as a substitute whilst Brett Poate and Dan Wooden were left out to the disappointment of many. But who knew that after spending much of the game relaxing, Pearce would have the final say on it's outcome?
Manager Dave Carter gave Pearce the nod with three minutes of normal time to play and as the game crept into time added on, he produced a stunning equaliser to send the tie to penalties. Then, he delivered the Coup De Grace, settling the shoot out with a decisive fifth spot kick giving his former colleague Lewis Watch no chance and sending Moneys through and Gosport out.
But Gosport boss Mick Catlin could take a lot from his team's display which saw a massive improvement and leap forward in confidence.
Although he may not have got the result he wanted against the side he left last week to take the Privett Park hot seat, he can surely take many positives from his new team's thorough and determined performance.
Watch returned at the expense of the suspended and departing Matt Cafer and had a quite superb game producing several stunning saves. On a cold and chilly October evening, Gosport had the first opportunity to break the deadlock in their first Southern League Cup tie since 2012. Sam Woodward’s fierce effort was well saved by Mowthorpe who also did well to deny Paige a few minutes later.
Gosport broke through after 25 minutes when Paige’s cross picked out the unmarked Watts at the far post and he turned the ball in. Moments earlier the Portsmouth side were forced into a change with skipper, Curtis Da Costa limping off injured being replaced by Benjamin.
But Moneyfields were soon level as Ryan Pennery converted a cross from Bailey. In a topsy-turvy end to the first half, Boro' regained the lead as Mowthorpe tangled with Onwauchu in a one-on-one situation and the ball squirmed out of the keeper’s hands and trickled over the line.
Moneys manager Dave Carter gave his team a fearful dressing down in the break and they emerged for the second half looking more purposeful. They had chances to equalise but Gosport doggedly held them off.
The visitors made a second change bringing on Austin for Spurway and Gosport followed suit introducing Smith for the hard working Onwauauchu who had had a lively game. Austin came within a whisker of an 80th minute leveller, as his point-blank range effort was met with an outstanding reflex save from Lewis Watch who preserved his team’s lead.
With three minutes left Watch played the hero once more, denying Pennery with another outstanding save. But there was no denying an equaliser for former Gosport skipper Sam Pearce - on as a substitute - whose long range drive left Watch helpless in the second minute of stoppage time ensuring the game would go to a penalty shoot out to decide the tie.
The shoot out was remarkable. Matt Buse converted Gosport’s first spot kick only for Conor Bailey to level. Kurt Watts then saw his effort saved before Marley Ridge put Moneys ahead. Boro' skipper Harry Medway then proceeded to miss, his penalty clipping the outside of the post.
That allowed Briggs to net and give the visitors daylight but there was to be a late twist as Ed Sanders scored keeping Gosport in the tie followed by an astonishing miss from Pennery whose chipped penalty was easily saved by Watch.
Craig Haddlesley then made it 3-3 leaving the former Gosport captain Pearce another chance to rub salt in the wounds by taking the fifth and final penalty. Pearce used all of his experience against his former team mate to confidently net and send Moneyfields through and Gosport out.
GOSPORT: Watch, Sanchese, Medway, Lis (Manneh 77), Sanders, Saidy, Paige, Buse, Onwuauchu (Smith 72), Woodward (Haddlesley 83) & Watts. SUB NOT USED: Leigh.
MONEYFIELDS: Mowthorpe, Martin, Bailey, Raine, Ford, Da Costa (Benjamin 23) (Pearce 88), Spurway (Austin 68), Briggs, Pennery, Paxton & Ridge. SUBS NOT USED: Connor,& Giddings .
Updated 08:41 - 4 Oct 2017 by Site Manager