Alex Pike paid tribute to Gosport Borough’s spirit as they put a troubled week behind them to claim a gutsy 1-0 victory at Chelmsford City.
With former captain Jamie Brown’s dismissal dominating the run-up to the club’s opening Vanarama Conference South fixture of the campaign, it was far from the ideal preparation.
Brown was served a termination notice, which is set to be appealed by the player, after an alleged verbal confrontation with chairman Mark Hook.
A Justin Bennett penalty midway through the first-half proved to be the only goal of the game and 10-man Borough held on after Rory Williams was sent off with 10 minutes left.
While Pike admitted that the preparations had been clouded, he was delighted with his side’s response.
He said: ‘As a manager and as a club, you don’t want to have the week that we’ve just had with Jamie.
‘But it proves what a great team spirit we have.
‘They put it behind them and it was a complete and utter battle at Chelmsford, especially when we went down to 10 men for the last 10 minutes.
‘I’m just proud to be their manager.’
Pike handed debuts to five new summer recruits with starts for Mike Carter, Matt Paterson, Steve Ramsey and Ben Gerring, while Robbie Matthews made a late appearance as a substitute.
And the Borough boss has snapped up another striker after signing Lee Wort from Hampshire neighbours Sholing.
The 22-year-old has spent pre-season on trial with Accrington Stanley and looked set to be offered a contract at the League Two outfit.
But he scored more than 50 goals for the Boatmen last season as they won the FA Vase and were crowned champions of the Wessex Premier division.
Pike, meanwhile, was keen to play down Borough’s ambitions for the campaign but is clearly keen to see some significant progress.
He said: ‘I don’t like to put any more pressure on the players than they already have by expressing where I want Gosport to be at the end of the season.
‘But everyone knows that I’m a manager that likes to win and tries to win every game I possibly can.
‘So we will just see where that takes us.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Molyneaux, Gerring (Poate, 41), Pearce, Williams, Dunford, Carter (Matthews, 84) Ramsey, Wooden, Bennett (Smith, 79), Paterson
Unused subs: Saez, Wilde
n Two second-half goals saw Bognor wind up empty-handed in a 3-1 defeat at Canvey Island in the Ryman League premier division on Saturday.
Bognor took the lead a little against the run of play on the half-hour mark when a defensive mistake allowed Ollie Pearce to slot the visitors ahead.
Canvey were soon level, though, when captain Jay Curran scored his 100th goal for the club after the visitors failed to clear the ball.
And the home side then started the second half in the best way possible.
Two minutes after the restart John Sands hit the back of the net for the Yellow Army after a great low cross from Anthony Thomas.
Just after the hour, Canvey extended their lead and secured the points when the impressive Curran grabbed his second.
The striker picked up a loose ball in the Bognor defence, before expertly hammering it into the net.