Five games to go - four points adrift of safety. The clock is ticking for Gosport Borough's survival chances as the latest round of their battle against the drop ended in stalemate at home to Weston-super-Mare.
The game was a tense affair from start to finish. It all started so well as Sam Lanahan's well executed near post strike gave Alex Pike's men the perfect start they so desperately needed. And for 20 minutes, the goal was enough to lift Boro' out of the bottom three with relegation rivals Whitehawk behind at East Thurrock.
But an equaliser from Dayle Grubb on the half hour changed the complexion of the entire survival battle. Suddenly, it was 1-1 and Whitehawk were fighting back in Essex.
The day ended with Boro' gaining a precious point in a game they could have either won or lost but elsewhere, Margate beat Truro and Whitehawk won to leave Gosport worse off - four points adrift and needing at least two wins from their final five matches plus a helping hand from other clubs. Gosport Borough's fate is both in and out of their hands.
Alex Pike named an unchanged side from the one that had slipped to defeat at Chelmsford a week ago. The conditions were almost picture perfect on a sunny April afternoon.
Both sides made a lively start in a game that kicked off slightly late. Gosport drew first blood as Joe Lea supplied a perfect cross from the right and Sam Lanahan only needed to apply the slightest touch at the near post to deceive keeper Purnell and put Boro' ahead.
Weston’s best chance of the first half was a header from Baldwin which needed clearing off the line shortly followed by another header from Hill which Jordan saved superbly to preserve his side’s lead.
An equaliser did arrive when Meyenese, already on a yellow card, appeared to foul Gosport’s Tony Lee in midfield. But the referee to hesitated, allowing the visitors catch the home side out. Boro' stopped, expecting the free kick but were punished, as a swift counter attack resulted in Dayle Grubb curling the ball around Jordan and in at the far post.
Gosport were furious as they believed a free-kick should have been awarded but they will surely regret not playing to the whistle and being caught flat footed. Their concentration was badly affected afterwards and could have fallen behind minutes later as Jake Lee’s header hit the post.
Weston started the second half well and Hill almost managed to turn a cross past Jordan but once again, the keeper kept Gosport in with a shout with a decent save. Weston turned the screw and Gethin Hill saw his goal disallowed for offside. At the other end, Wright’s free kick was turned round the post by Purnell.
Boro' boss Alex Pike made a double change on the hour introducing Bailey and Brice for Lanahan & Suraci. Jordan then made a brave double stop to deny Ash as the game became a finely balanced affair going into a tense but thrilling finale in which Weston had a second goal scrubbed for offside and Weston manager Bartlett was sent to the stands by referee Lee Venamore.
Gosport are far from out of the running to stay in the National South but they can ill afford any more slip ups, meaning they must return from Welling United with at least some reward - preferably all three points - next Saturday as both the pressure and tension increases on both players and management.
GOSPORT: Jordan, Dawson, Bird, Lanahan (Brice 60), Sanders, Oastler, Lea, Harding, Lee, Wright (Martin 90) & Suraci (Bailey 60). SUBS NOT USED: Walters & Watch.
WESTON S.M: Purnell, Pope, Greenslade, Humphries, Baldwin, Meyenese, Lee, Kington, Ash, Grubb & Hill (Reid 65). SUBS NOT USED: Chemlal, Anderson, Laird & Chamberlain.
REFEREE: L.Venamore (Kent)
Updated 10:43 - 2 Apr 2017 by Site Manager