A match report by Swindon Supermarine correspondent Aleck Everard.
Swindon Supermarine were back in home action on Wednesday night as they entertained Gosport Borough - looking to get back on the winning track after finally losing their long unbeaten run at the weekend.
Manager Lee Spalding freshened the pack, with loanees Malik Sesay and George Cowmeadow being brought into the team, Ty Duffus missing out with a knee injury and Conor McDonagh dropping to the bench.
Good news arrived with George Dowling and Tom Sharpe fit enough to make the bench for the first time in months. Top scorer Harry Williams and left back duo Will Tunnicliff and Lewis Hall remained sidelined but closing in on a return soon.
On a wet and soggy surface both sides struggled to get to grips with things in the early stages and there were 17 minutes on the clock before the first decent effort on goal as Marine settled into their game. On this occasion big stopper O’Flaherty was down to stop Zack Kotwica’s low drive.
Cowmeadow was the next to show with a strong run down the left finishing with a thump over the top. Marine were now looking in control and passing the ball around well, and the goal came as expected.
With 24 on the clock a nice team move ended with a deft back hell assist from the inventive Joe Tumelty allowing Zack Kotwica to blast home from just outside the box giving the keeper no chance. Kotwica’s excellent season continuing with his 11th and most successful goal tally of his Marine career.
Whether it was a touch of complacency or a case of taking their foot off the pedal, Swindon got sloppy at the back and a header back to Josh Gould from stand in full back Ryan Campbell dropped short, allowing Harvey Rew to execute a lovely lob to level proceedings on the half hour. Supermarine responded well and Tumelty appeared to be clipped in the box, but appeals were waved away.
The final chance of the half fell to striker James Harding, but O’Flaherty used his feet well to block.
A mixed half with good possession, an excellent goal but a sloppy leveller made it all to play for in the second period.
Swindon continued where they left out by dominating the game and having to fend off the odd break from the Borough team. O’Flaherty continued to frustrate the home attack, Tumelty having an effort blocked early on.
Jamie Edge headed a corner just over the top soon after before the visiting custodian showed some weakness at last spilling a Henry Spalding effort only to keep out Cowmeadow’s follow up chance on the hour.
A rare Gosport attack saw the lively Boutin strike a good chance over the bar before Marine made their first change with McDonagh on for Cowmeadow to try and grab the initiative.
Josh Gould was called into action with a superb stop as Marine pushed for the breakthrough, and with 15 minutes left Brad Hooper came on for Edge who had taken a knock to the foot just prior.
Within a minute Marine put a good move together to release Harding into the box and he was brought tumbling, giving the referee no option but to point to the spot.
With 77 minutes on the board O’Flaherty was making himself the man of the night when Harding stepped up and scuffed his kick, allowing the big keeper to push away and as an encore blocking Kotwica’s follow up attempt.
Gould had to pull off another good stop as Marine wobbled after the penalty miss, but these Supermarine boys never give up, and with time running out Spalding was flattened out on the right to give Marine a late free kick. A whipped-in kick caused chaos in the box and poacher supreme James Harding atoned for his earlier miss and showing predatory instincts to blast home to grab a late lead. This was his 15th of the season and seventh in four games since the Williams injury gave him his opportunity. What a way to respond!
George Dowling came on immediately after the goal, replacing Harding, as Marine looked to preserve what they had, but with time running out a majestic pass from the midfielder set away Henry Spalding on goal who cleverly poked it past the keeper to seal the points with the third and his sixth of the campaign.
It had been a hard-fought victory but one Swindon had undoubtedly deserved, keeping the play off chase going, now just three points behind fifth with a game in hand.
Next up, another home game against Tiverton Town on Saturday.
Fans' player of the match: Sam Turl – a robust, hard-working display from the defender as we have come to expect
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