By Richard Nelsen
Gosport Borough 4 Melksham Town 2
Whilst games were being called off all around a classic cup tie took place on the South Coast in Hampshire. Southern Premier League side Gosport entertained Melksham at Privett Park in a gritty and entertaining match.
The game got off to a frenetic start in wet and blustery conditions. Gosport looked comfortable on the ball from the start and quickly worked the ball down the left through Rory Williams, his dangerous ball into box was not cleared by the Melksham defence and fell to Matt Paterson. Paterson controlled the ball and fired it into the bottom corner of the net past Jamie Bartlett.
Despite the quick start Melksham soon began to get into the game and won a series of corners. In only the fifth minute a dangerous corner from Luke Ballinger was met by a looping header from David Thompson. His header clipped against the underside of the bar and looked to have crossed the line as the Gosport defence scrabbled to get the ball away. The referee and his assistant didn’t agree it had cross the line and it remained one nil to Gosport.
Joe Romanski was next to threaten for Melksham when he volleyed over the bar from another corner. The away side were clearly beginning to grow into the game and Gosport realised they were in for a game.
Gosport threatened next when a dangerous ball through was clipped through and Matt Hurley nearly put it past his keeper in his efforts to direct it to safety. Melksham then proceeded to get a grip of the match with Daniel Ojo lively on the left wing. He twice broke through on the left hand side and brought excellent saves from Patrick O’Flaherty on each occasion. The first being diverted onto the bar and the second being palmed wide for a corner.
Melksham looked the more likely to score next in the lead up to half time but were dealt a sucker punch when just minutes before the break Gosport extended their lead. A contentious offside was not given and in the preceding play, the ball broke to Theo Lewis, he calmly slotted the ball home and Gosport had a two goal advantage.
The second half began with Gosport threatening immediately through a Theo Lewis shot from six yards out which was saved by Bartlett.
Melksham refused to be overawed in their task and were confident and industrious in their play. Around five minutes into the second half, Jack Ball was felled on the edge of the box, and Luke Ballinger stepped up and slammed home a free kick into the bottom corner of the Gosport goal, to the delight of the travelling fans.
Melksham were very much back in the tie and proceeded to look dangerous over the next period of play. A game changing moment then occurred when Chris Flood for Gosport looked to force the ball over the line. Jamie Bartlett looked to have stopped the ball on the line, but on this occasion the assistant referee raised his flag and a goal was given.
At 3-1 Gosport probably were confident that they would see the game out, but less than five minutes later Melksham had fought their way back into the match. Josh Ford excellently controlling the ball in the box and deftly finishing past the static Gosport defence.
It was game on and Melksham looked dangerous as Gosport looked to hold what they had. Matt Hurley and Dave Thompson both threatened from long range as the time ticked by. Aidan Chainey won challenge after challenge in midfield and kept the Melksham side moving forward and looking likely to create further chances.
Gosport were always dangerous on the break and as Melksham piled forward looking for a well deserved equaliser they were caught out by a well executed Gosport attack which resulted in Matt Paterson slotting home from six yards out.
It finished with a Gosport win but Melksham did themselves proud and were unlucky not to take their hosts back to Wiltshire.