Injury worries mount after Dartford defeat
Boro' lost 4-0 at home to Tony Burman's title chasers but even more worrying for Alex Pike is his lengthy injury list.
Alex Pike's problems multiplied this afternoon as his injury hit Gosport side were condemned to a heavy defeat by Dartford leaving them marooned just two points above the relegation zone with fourteen games remaining.
A serious injury to goalkeeper Mark Childs after just twenty minutes of his home debut set the tone for the afternoon as Gosport. Without a substitute goalkeeper, Pike was forced to ask striker Rowan Vine to don the gloves.
Vine produced a remarkable display but was powerless to prevent Dartford from easing to a comfortable three points. Later in the game, Tony Lee also limped off injured but by then the game was a long way out of his team's reach.
Goals from Pugh, Wanadio, Wood and Dembele put Dartford right in the thick of the title race, closing in to within a point of leaders Ebbsfleet United and second placed Maidenhead.
It also left Gosport stuck in a precarious position - two points clear of the drop zone - with all three teams below them, Whitehawk, Bishops Stortford and Margate also losing. Boro' will also be looking nervously over their shoulders on Monday when Whitehawk, directly below them, play their game in hand at Wealdstone.
Victory for the Brighton side in London would drag Gosport into the drop zone for the first time and increase the pressure on Pike and his players. Boro's next two games - away at Eastbourne and Truro City are vital for their survival hopes.
The beleaguered Boro' boss will also be hoping to have some players back for the trip to East Sussex but Childs certainly wont be there after dislocating a knee. The Boro' keeper fell akwardly after preventing Dartford captain Bradbrook from scoring and was immediately in agony.
He was stretchered off and was later taken to hospital in an ambulance after being assessed by both the Gosport and Dartford medical staff and a paramedic called to the stadium.
Childs faces a six week rehabilitation and leaves Pike in need of a new goalkeeper with the club's other stoppers, Nick Jordan and Dan Thomas, also injured and Lewis Watch on loan at Southern League Petersfield Town.
Alex Pike was forced into several changes with injuries and suspensions still playing havoc with his team selection on a bitterly cold afternoon at the Aerial Direct Stadium.
Aaron Dawson served the final game of his two match ban whilst illness ruled out Tom Bird and injury putting paid to Ramone Rose. Joe Oastler played despite sustaining a facial injury in the midweek draw at Hampton & Richmond donning a “Phantom of the Opera” style mask. The two other players injured at Hampton in midweek - Ben Harding and Josh Carmichael - both recovered and started the game.
Dartford took an early lead in swirling sleet as Joe Oastler allowed Harris’ through ball to run through to Murphy who then found himself with a clear run at goal. Murphy was closed down by keeper Childs who was unable to halt the progress of the Dartford striker. Murphy slid a square ball across the face of goal to Pugh who applied the simplest of touches to score at the far post.
The visitors then made a full blooded penalty appeal as Ben Harding cut out a cross with his chest but referee Hulme showed little interest. At the other end, Sander’s registered Gosport’s first effort on target with an overhead kick but his attempt fell softly into the arms of Deren Ibrahim.
Then came the incident that truly changed the course of the game. Mark Childes played no further part in proceedings after sustaining an injury an incident involving Dartford’s Bradbrook. The luckless keeper landed awkwardly and it was clear he was in considerable distress. He was stretchered off and was replaced by Rowan Vine. Childs then spent two hours being treated and assessed before finally being taken to hospital in an ambulance half an hour after the final whistle.
Gosport then produced a good spell midway through the half as Wright tested Ibrahim with a stinging shot and the home side then continued to create chances. Meanwhile Dartford tested the stand-in keeper Vine. Vine had his moments, including one particularly good stop from Bradbrook as the first half drew to a close.
Neither side made any changes at the break. Vine made a remarkable save from Pugh 11 minutes into the second period - a full stretch one handed stop. Adam Brice was booked then immediately substituted, replaced by Sam Lanahan.
Dartford had long threatened to score a second and did eventually with Wanadio’s curling effort leaving Vine with no chance. The Darts then made sure of the points with a stunning long range effort from Keaton Wood that arrowed its way into the top right hand corner.
Almost simultaneously, Suraci replaced the struggling Tony Lee for Gosport but Dartford made it four as substitute Dembele nodded home Wanadio’s cross with seven minutes left. Ben Wright’s shot was well saved by Ibrahim in stoppage time as Gosport pushed for a consolation but there was little to cheer for the home faithful on a bleak afternoon.