Battling Boro' beat Bath to boost survival bid
Sam Lanahan's early strike was the match winner as Gosport survived a late penalty drama to win 1-0 in tense encounter.
The night is darkest before the dawn. It's an old saying and it has proven to be particularly apt for Gosport Borough of late.
Ten days ago they lost at Margate - leaving a very gloomy atmosphere around the club and leaving precious few people believing they would achieve Vanarama National South survival. Five points adrift of the safety zone and the outlook was grim. It was their darkest hour this season beyond any doubt.
What a difference ten days makes! Dawn has broken over the Aerial Direct Stadium after Gosport quite dramatically turned their form on it's head, making it two wins from two, five goals scored and not one conceded.
Now they have piled the pressure on both Truro and Whitehawk - both of whom are just two points ahead with the latter facing a tricky home test against Hampton & Richmond tomorrow night. The game's afoot.
Boro' followed up Saturday's 4-0 win over St Albans City with a quite dramatic battling display against The Romans which at times became a real "backs against the wall" affair.
Sam Lanahan's superb individual goal after just five minutes eventually settled a cagey affair which Bath will go away feeling hugely frustrated they didn't get anything from. The Romans had the better of the second half and had countless opportunities to find an equaliser.
The best came in the 90th minute when the visitors were awarded a penalty which Nick Jordan, on his return from suspension, saved to ensure his team's brave performance was richly rewarded. He had also earlier made a superb save from Chas Hemmings' free kick at full stretch to preserve Gosport's slender lead.
There were two changes for the home side with Nick Jordan returning in goal after serving a one match ban for his dismissal at Margate and Josh Carmichael missing out due to injury meaning a start for Sam Lanahan.
Lanahan (pictured) needed just five minutes to prove he was well worthy of inclusion. The game had barely started when Marvin Morgan hit the post for the visitors. Gosport then pushed forward and Lanahan found the back of the net with a stylish strike, the ball swerving past Bath keeper O'Leary and into the bottom corner.
It was the best possible start for Gosport and few could have predicted at that stage that the goal would be the match winner. There was a long way to go on a chilly March evening with a brisk wind and clear skies overhead.
The first half offered little incident although Bath were always knocking on the door. Their best effort of the opening period came thanks to Billy Murphy whose powerful effort narrowly cleared the bar.
The displeasure of Bath boss Gary Owers was fairly evident to anyone within earshot of the dressing rooms of the interval and his team responded magnificently in the second half as they piled the pressure on creating chance after chance - winning a series of corners.
Andy Watkins missed a golden chance for Bath whilst at the other end, Tony Lee turned provider for Joe Lea with a low short cross from the right hand side of the area which Lea headed wide.
Ben Wright also had a brace of chances to make it two but was unable to capitalise before his eventual substitution with 11 minutes to play.
Bath made a telling double change bringing on Hunter and Diallo for Rigg and Morgan. Hunter had been Bath's main protagonist in the reverse fixture in September, a game they won comfortably.
There were mentions of Gosport's awful defensive record but the visitors found to their cost that this is a Boro' team who have suddenly found their feet and their form. They have togetherness, team spirit and resilience.
His pace did provide a new threat. The Romans won a free kick on the edge of the Gosport area which Hemmings lined up. His set piece was bound for the top right hand corner but for Jordan who made a wonderful save to push the ball round for the corner and make the save of the night.
As the minutes counted down the tension grew. Bath pressed and Gosport shored up their defence by bringing on Adam Brice. Stoppage time arrived and suddenly the visitors were presented with a huge chance to level things up with a penalty after Jordan charged out and felled McCoulsky.
But in a moment of high drama, the Boro' stopper atoned by blocking McCoulsky's effort with his legs. The game was won.
There was a huge togetherness as the game drew to a close. The Boro' fans had been superb and suddenly survival seems a giant step closer. There is still much work to be done and the next game is as tough as it gets - away to play off contenders Chelmsford City in Essex at the weekend.
But after the past two games, anything may happen at the Melbourne Stadium this weekend. One thing's for sure, Gosport will go there with a great deal more belief and confidence than they would have done before.