Controversial last gasp penalty sinks Boro'
An entertaining game with a cruel twist ended Boro's four year stay in the National League South.
A severely depleted Gosport Borough side were edged out by Whitehawk as they slipped to a narrow defeat on the final day of a difficult season, being undone by a late debatable penalty.
It was a cruel way to end a difficult season at the club as Boro had produced a pleasing display, full of pride and character despite their relegation being confirmed last weekend.
Missing several senior players due to injury, Danny Thompson and Tony Stares - in charge for the day in the absence of Manager Alex Pike - were left little option to name three Development Squad players in the starting line up and two more on the bench.
Adam Brice, Ben Harding, Joe Oastler, Nick Jordan were all out whilst Aaron Dawson and Tony Lee were forced off at the break. In came Lewis Watch (pictured), Will Pointon and Declan McCarthy, whilst Connor May and Ellis Grant were on the bench.
The game kicked off on a beautiful sunny afternoon and what could have been a vital relegation decider was little more than a dead rubber, a routine end of season affair. But try telling Gosport and Whitehawk that as it became a lively contest, end to end with both teams giving it their all.
Whitehawk began brightly and weren’t hesitant in asking questions of their depleted hosts. Sutherland’s shot wasn’t too far away in the sixth minute. Boro’s first serious chance arrived in the 18th with a good move engineered by Sam Lanahan almost finished off by Ollie Bailey who couldn’t direct a difficult finish on target at the far post.
Bailey’s far post header from a Carmichael cross just shaved the roof of the net as Gosport threatened again. Ollie Bailey was unable to turn a square pass from Wright in as Boro' shone brightly as the first half progressed.
Whitehawk threatened again with seven minutes until the break as Danny Mills prised open the stubborn Gosport defence, squaring left and Sanders cleared the effort off the line acrobatically. That proved to be all important as Boro' took the lead a minute before the break with Ben Wright’s deflected free kick deceiving Covolan and creeping in.
But the visitors were level within five minutes of the restart. A long ball found the feet of the ever dangerous Danny Mills whose neat shot and turn brought the equaliser. Whitehawk and in particular, Mills continued to threaten.
However it was Gosport who scored. Substitute Pat Suraci kept his cool in the area showing close control to create space and time to pick his spot to restore his team’s lead. Almost immediately though, the Brighton side were level with Mike West’s delicious curling shot from all of 20 yards giving Watch no chance as it found the top corner.
Ollie Bailey had a golden opportunity to restore Gosport’s lead as he got on the end of Ben Wright’s square pass but turned the ball up onto the bar from less than a yard out. Ben Wright almost scored the winner with seconds left as his flicked effort was well saved by Covolan.
Whitehawk found the winner as a controversial penalty was awarded for a foul on Sutherland by Will Pointon. There appeared to be minimal contact but referee Yianni gave the penalty allowing Sutherland the chance to compose himself and slot home the award to win the game.
It was a cruel way for Boro' to end arguably one of the worst seasons in their history. But they bowed out of the National South with pride and some respect which is all anyone could have ever asked.