Bennett call pays off for Pike

Borough boss Alex Pike Picture: Paul Jacobs
Borough boss Alex Pike Picture: Paul Jacobs
Mick Catlin. Picture: Neil Marshall

Catlin: FA Trophy exit a big step backwards for Gosport

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Alex Pike felt his decision to bench Justin Bennett paid off as his top goalscorer delivered a derby double.

The long-serving Borough hitman took his season’s tally to 25 in all competitions with a close-range header and smart finish from 20 yards yesterday against the Hawks.

But after he was surprisingly left out of the side for the 1-1 draw with Concord Rangers on Sunday, Pike felt his latest performance justified that selection.

Pike said: ‘I wasn’t resting him against Concord.

‘They are a physical side and we couldn’t afford to come into this game with Justin Bennett having any knocks or being injured.

‘It proved to be the right decision and the same goes for Dan Wooden, who is also very important to us.

‘I thought Justin was immense.

‘He has proved again what a quality striker he is.

‘You run out of things to say about him.’

Pike felt the 3-1 win was the ideal response from his side, who needed a lift after a disappointing run of results – including the 3-2 Boxing Day defeat at Westleigh Park – saw them slide out of the play-off places.

And he believes the result has given Borough the edge over their neighbours in the race for Conference South promotion.

‘I’m delighted with the performance and the result,’ said Pike.

‘We made mistakes on Boxing Day and, apart from 20 minutes in the second half, it was all us yesterday.

‘If we had come in 3-0 up at half-time, I don’t think they could have moaned.

‘I thought the movement of my front two was exceptional and Dan Wooden breaking behind them with pace created a lot of problems.

‘Then Lee (Bradbury)brought some quality off the Hawks bench and put us under pressure, but I thought we defended resolutely.

‘It took an unfortunate own goal from Sam Pearce for them to score against us.

‘If you look at the two games overall, Gosport came out on top.

‘They beat us 3-2, we beat them 3-1 so we’ve won 5-4 on aggregate.’

Pike also downplayed his minor spat with Bradbury in the wake of substitute Lee Wort’s clincher deep in stoppage-time.

The Borough boss said: ‘Lee felt I was disrespectful, running on and doing the aeroplane.

‘It wasn’t done with any malice.

‘He’s an ex-professional footballer and manager so maybe he took it the wrong way. It wasn’t meant like that.

‘It was just a mixture of relief and excitement.

‘We were in the last minute, we’d scored a third goal and just beaten our local rivals.

‘What do they expect?

‘To be honest, I surprised myself I could run that far.’