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Halesowen Town 1 Gosport Borough 3
RICHARD Huckfield saw red as Halesowen Town were beaten by promotion-chasing Gosport Borough.
The defender was given his marching orders seven minutes before the break for a second booking after bringing down visiting striker Daniel Wooden.
Brett Poate had earlier given Gosport the lead with a powerful free-kick and they went further ahead when Justin Bennett capitalised on a Michael McGrath error to score.
Ben Haseley’s penalty gave the Yeltz brief hope but substitute Liam Sewell’s close range strike made sure of the points for Gosport.
This was another frustrating afternoon for the Yeltz.
Gosport are one of the strongest sides in the Southern League South and West and were always going to be tough opponents. But not for the first time this season there was the nagging sense a visiting side has been gifted all three points at the Grove.
Referee Dragan Kuzmanovic may have been over pedantic at times but was left with little option but to dismiss Huckfield, already on a booking, after he brought down Wooden.
It was another tough afternoon for McGrath. The midfielder now starts a four game ban after his sending-off at Tiverton last week and didn’t exactly sign-off with a flourish. His foul set up Gosport’s opening goal and his foolish pass delivered their second on a plate.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Reece Cotterill looked particularly lively when he came on and Marcus Jackson did well throughout. Haseley’s penalty continued his impressive scoring record and there is the definite sense the Yeltz have the pieces to build a very good team, just perhaps not in the right order yet. Gosport showed their attacking intent from the start with both Justin Bennett and Daniel Wooden firing wide in the opening five minutes.
Then came a golden chance as Wooden chased a ball over the top and Evans hesitated coming off his line. But the striker failed to make a decent connection on the attempted lob, with Kelly easily clearing.
Halesowen had their first real opening soon after but Nathanial Caines chose to try and find another man rather than shoot as he met a Marcus Jackson cross at the far post.
Haseley, always lively, then turned left-back Ellis Martin this way and that but couldn’t find Jackson with his cross.
But it was still Gosport who looked the more fluid going forward and after 17 minutes they grabbed the lead.
The home side had already been given a sign of Poate’s shot power when he fired narrowly wide from all of 35 yards out and when Michael McGrath brought down Daniel Woodward on the edge of the area, he drilled an unstoppable low shot past Evans and into the bottom corner.
Gosport almost doubled their lead within a minute but Evans did brilliantly to tip a shot from Bennett round the post.
After weathering the storm, the Yeltz began to look more threatening and Jackson latched on to a Kelly through pass but trod on the ball and the chance was gone.
When Saunders did play in Haseley, the striker for once lost his coolness and hurriedly blazed his shot over the bar.
Seven minutes before the break, the home side’s task was made harder when Huckfield saw red. The defender had already been booked for an innocuous challenge but when he pulled down Wooden as the forward looked to be getting past him, referee Dragan Kuzmanovic wasted no time in showing him a second yellow.
The hosts were soon under the cosh at the start of the second period and Evans did well to save from Alex Wilde, after his own clearing punch had found the wide man. He was soon in the action again, tipping an acrobatic effort from Bennett round the post.
Frustratingly, the Yeltz had started to cause the visitors a few problems before they gifted them a second.
McGrath’s foolish pass across the edge of his own box was cut out by Wooden, who coolly played in Bennett for a simple finish.
Evans prevented another goal and further calamity when he blocked from Lewis Sewell, after the substitute had charged down a goal-kick. The Yeltz keeper also tipped over to deny Bennett a second.
The arrival of Andrew Westwood and Reece Cotterill gave the hosts some more impetus. Gosport keeper Nathan Ashmore was called into his first real action of the day when he saved a low Haseley shot and then a further effort from Cotterill.
With eight minutes to go, he was picking the ball out of the net. Cotterill was needlessly tugged down by Lee Molyneaux in the box and Haselet fired the spot-kick into the top scorer.
For a few minutes, four to be precise, an almost unthinkable comeback looked on.
But then Bennett brought down a long ball and fed Sewell, who couldn’t miss the target from eight yards out.
YELTZ: Evans, Smith, Kelly (c), Folkes, Huckfield, McGrath (Cotterill 65), Jackson, Saunders (Gueyes 80), Jones (Westwood 65), Haseley, Caines subs not used: Flower, Arshad.
Goal: Haseley pen 82.
GOSPORT: Ashmore, Jones, Martin, Poate (c), Molyneaux, Ford, Woodward (Lewis 90), Kirby, Wooden (Sewell 63), Bennett, Wilde (Humble 78) subs not used: Hards, Bostan.
Goals Poate 17, Bennett 58, Sewell 86.