NEW management duo at Gosport Pat Suraci and Joe Lea could not have imagined a better start for their new side who currently sit top of the tree in the Pitching In Southern League Premier South. The two were managing together at Petersfield Town but were unable to resist the temptation of taking over the reins of a club that both have served as players.
Suraci was an entertaining, skilful winger, and Lea a cultured midfielder who was briefly a professional at Yeovil. Lea is only 25 but is not registered as a player for the Boro. Interestingly, he was at Petersfield, but stopped to concentrate on management. Whatever they are doing, it appears to be having the desired effect.
The last decade has been a rollercoaster ride for the Hampshire side. In the 2013-14 season, after an absence of 23 years, Gosport returned to the second tier of non-league football, taking their place in the Conference South. For four seasons, they competed at that level and reached the FA Trophy final in 2014. However, they were losing finalists on that day to Cambridge United, by a 4-0 margin.
Their 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons were blighted by financial problems. This heavily contributed to relegation in 2016-17 and it got worse as they narrowly avoided a second successive relegation from the Southern League Premier South the following season, amazingly surviving the drop despite winning only five times and conceding 142 goals. Eighty different players represented them and the management of the team changed hands three times.
However, things have stabilised since then, including a play-off push under Shaun Gale in the not too distant past.
Boro have been beaten twice in the league this season, but have yet to taste defeat on home turf. Last weekend, they suffered the second of those losses against fellow contenders Salisbury, who avenged Gosport’s FA Trophy triumph against them a week earlier, a penalty shootout deciding matters, following a 2-2 scoreline.
Goalscoring midfielder Alexandr Barsa, who moved from the Czech Republic to study at Portsmouth University, has caught the eye: 21-year-old defender Harvey Rew’s six goals, highlight his aerial threat; and Gosport stalwart Dan Wooden has chipped in with a handful of goals. He can operate upfront or as a midfielder.
Tiverton welcome new signing Elliott Dugan a forward who began the season with Taunton. I know, speaking to Interim manager Richard Pears, that he is looking to get a few others through the door at Ladysmead.
It is always sad to see players go, but it is a reality of football, even more so in the non-league set-up. All at the club wish Louis Morison well and the talented midfielder’s time with the Yellows will be fondly remembered by the fans.
The game will be our last in league action for a while, as our next two scheduled opponents – AFC Totton and Chesham – will be playing in the two big cup competitions when we were meant to meet them.
I am certain that the coaching staff and the players, established and new will be determined to change our fortunes.