Last-gasp Gary Bowles strike saves Dorchester Town at Gosport

BY: Neil Walton – Dorset Echo Sport (@EchosportNeil)


DORCHESTER Town captain Gary Bowles rescued the Magpies by scoring a dramatic injury-time leveller at 10-man basement side Gosport Borough in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division, as Steve Thompson’s men came away with a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Privett Park.

Boro had twice cancelled out Archie Collins and Ed Bastick goals respectively through Craig McAllister and a swirling 30-yard Stephane Bombelenga strike, but saw captain Harry Medway sent off for an elbow on Neil Martin in the first half.

Both sides hit the woodwork numerous times before Boro’s Jason Smith scored a backheel with five minutes left, only to witness Bowles’ last-gasp intervention.

Dorchester made three changes to the side that started the 1-0 defeat to Hereford last Saturday, with Billy Lowes (illness), Sam Lanahan (concussion) and Tom Blair missing out.

Their replacements were Cameron Ebbutt, Bastick and Dom Panesar-Dower, while there was still no place in the squad for Phil Ormrod with a groin injury, and Antonio Diaz missed his fourth game in a row to play for Bournemouth under-21s.

The final result was a far cry from the Magpies’ 7-2 win against Gosport earlier this season. Before kick-off Boro were placed five points from safety with three games in hand over relegation rivals Dunstable Town.

In urgent need of a win, Gosport subsequently made the brighter start of the two sides, fashioning two minor opportunities, but Chris Weale remained untroubled in the Magpies’ goal.

Dorchester responded to the hosts’ early promise by creating their first chance of the game, as good link-up play between Ebbutt and Collins saw the former swing in a cross for David Jerrard but the midfielder could only glance his header wide of goal.

The Magpies continued to press and, when Bastick was grounded on the edge of the area by a hefty tackle to win a free-kick, Jerrard stepped up and cracked a superb attempt against the post from the free-kick in the 15th minute.

But the visitors went one better in a near carbon-copy situation three minutes later. Ebbutt this time was the Dorchester player to be upended on the periphery of the box, allowing Collins to fire home his second Dorchester goal in four games into the bottom corner of Boro keeper Patrick O’Flaherty’s goal.

However, Boro cancelled out Collins’ goal 10 minutes later as the hosts broke forward at pace with an incisive move. Gosport’s initial effort was blocked by the Magpies’ defence but McAllister was on hand to bury the rebound.

Gosport then succumbed to a moment of madness when referee Paul Johnson spotted an elbow by skipper Medway on Martin and brandished a straight red card on 33 minutes.

Dorchester were quick to take advantage of their undermanned opponents as Collins found Bastick with a pinpoint ball forward, allowing the winger to blast a shot in off the post just seven minutes later.

Yet a plucky Gosport restored parity for a second time in the dying embers of the second half when left-back Bombelenga tried his luck from 30 yards, seeing his effort take the wind and sail over Weale to make it 2-2 at half-time.

Gosport almost took the lead shortly after the resumption, as Bombelenga’s dipping cross evaded Weale and cracked against the top of the bar.

In what was a riveting encounter, Dorchester smacked a free-kick against the bar after Collins was brought down, despite there being a suspicion that the foul occurred inside the area.

Shortly after Bastick attempted a weak shot that crept wide, the winger continued his lively form by rifling a shot against the post, before Martin was only denied by a fabulous save from O’Flaherty to keep the scores level.

With time running out for the Magpies to grab a winner, Ross Carmichael headed over with 10 minutes remaining from a Martin cross.

It was to be Gosport who struck next though, as Smith’s cheeky backheel found the net for 3-2 with five minutes left.

But Dorchester plugged away and were saved from an ignominious defeat by Bowles, who tucked home after excellent combination play from Blair and Bastick to earn the Magpies a point from a hugely entertaining league match.

Gosport: Gosport: O’Flaherty, Sharp, Medway, Lea, Flooks, Wakely, Bombelenga, Smith, McAllister (Dennett 82), Suraci, Rawkins. Subs not used: Cherrett, Lis, Watts, Paige

Magpies: Weale, Egan, Martin, Rose, Carmichael (Griggs 88), Bowles, Bastick, Collins, Jerrard (Ayunga 85), Panesar-Dower, Ebbutt (Blair 77). Sub not used: Brookes

Referee: Tristan Greaves

Attendance: 244