Wantaway Bennett backed to aid Borough play-off push

Gosport Borough striker Justin Bennett          Picture: Ally Mac Photography

Gosport Borough striker Justin Bennett Picture: Ally Mac Photography

Alex Pike

Gosport are down after Concord’s late strike

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Wantaway striker Justin Bennett can help Gosport Borough reach the National League South play-offs.

That’s the view of assistant boss Mick Catlin ahead of tomorrow’s all-important trip to Chelmsford City (3pm).

Bennett is a legend at Privett Park, leading the club’s all-time scoring charts in a goal-laden nine-year stay.

But following a season that has seen Gosport hit by financial problems the 33-year-old will not be returning to complete a decade with Borough, despite being under contract until the end of the 2016-17 campaign.

The disillusioned striker made his intentions to leave the club known on Twitter following the 1-0 loss to Hemel Hempstead earlier this month.

That marked a fifth defeat in succession for Alex Pike’s side and appeared to all but dash hopes of a play-off push.

But a spirited 0-0 draw against Bishops Stortford last Saturday was followed by a 3-2 win over Basingstoke on Tuesday night – ending a month-long wait for victory – to fire Borough back into promotion contention.

And ahead of the trip to Essex, Gosport sit just two points off fifth spot, with Bennett’s 21-goal haul seeing him two behind Ebbsfleet’s Matt Godden in the race to be crowned the division’s leading marksman in successive seasons.

The prolific striker ended his 11-game goal drought against Basingstoke and Catlin believes he still has a big role to play for the club this season.

He said: ‘Justin is contracted to the club and beyond next season.

‘So from our point of view we expect him to be professional.

‘We (Catlin and Pike) didn’t agree with him coming out and announcing it at the time with five games to go.

‘But with Justin he has been at the club nine years, and we know every time he plays he gives us everything he has got.

‘There was no doubt he was going to keep trying.

‘He is still in a position where he can get the golden boot, so from a personal point of view he is obviously going to want to score goals and finish top of the pile there.

‘We didn’t have any doubts about playing him.

‘It is just frustrating that we are in this position and we are losing one of our best players.

‘But there’s nothing we can do about that, really.

‘How it pans out I don’t know, but he has made his mind up he wants to leave – hopefully we will get a fee and it will help us to get someone else.’

For now, though, concentration is fixed firmly on a potentially-decisive outing at Chelmsford.

Catlin added: ‘We are not playing for draws now!

‘If the game was tight and we were drawing then we would make changes to try to win it, that’s the approach.

‘If we are going to get into the play-offs then we need to win our last three games and hope others drop points.

‘We are two points off but, as we know, anything can happen in these last three games.

‘The league has been on a knife edge all season and it is still all to play for.

‘We just have to view these last three games like cup ties – that’s the best way of approaching it.’

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