Gosport Borough’s fortunes in cup competitions have taken another turn for the worse after they were booted out of the Russell-Cotes Cup for fielding an ineligible player – again.
On loan keeper Nathan Ashmore has since become a contracted player at Privett Park.
But when the young stopper stepped out for Borough in the quarter-final of the competition against Christchurch last month, he was – according to Hampshire FA regulations – still a loan signing from the Hawks and therefore unable to take part.
So instead of enjoying a home semi-final clash against Hampshire Premier League Liphook United later this month, Borough have handed Christchurch a lifeline back in to the competition.
And all this coming after originally thrashing them in a thriller at Privett Park.
Justin Bennett, Ross Langworthy and Adam Wilde scored the goals in a 5-2 victory after the hosts had been two goals down at the break.
Amazingly, Gosport’s largely self-inflicted misfortune was a repeat of what happened to them in early December when they met Christchurch in the Hampshire Senior Cup.
On that occasion, a goal from striker Tom Price looked to have been enough to send them through to a home quarter-final against Wessex League leaders Winchester City, managed by former Pompey defender Guy Butters.
But again it didn’t happen for Alex Pike’s Borough as it later transpired that Price was on loan from Poole Town and therefore ineligible – with Christchurch striking gold and being reinstated.
Having fallen foul of the regulations not once, but twice, Borough’s hopes of a hat-trick of trophies in cup competitions has gone up in smoke.
And they are left with just the Portsmouth Senior Cup to have any chance of bringing silverware back to the Privett Park trophy cabinet.
Again, fortune hasn’t favoured them as they meet Moneyfields at Dover Road in the semi-final – the same evening as they are due to face Abingdon in a rearranged Southern League match in Oxfordshire.
‘The regulations are there for every club to abide by but, in error, we have breached them and have paid for it,’ said Borough secretary Brian Cosgrave.
‘It is very unfortunate for everyone at the club, none more so than the players.
‘The regulations are quite complicated and can be easily misunderstood and at no time did we intend to field players who could be subject to an enquiry as to them being ineligible.
‘But at the end of the day, Tom Price was in fact a loan player.
‘And so too was Nathan Ashmore when the original tie should have been played in early January, only to be postponed until January 30.
‘We’re left with just the Portsmouth Senior Cup in which to compete for a trophy, though our main focus has always been to reach at least the play-offs and go on to earn promotion.
‘For us it’s important to do well in every competition we enter and the Portsmouth Senior Cup is no different.
‘However, resources will be tested in full at the club later this month when we send a side to Moneyfields for the semi-final – the same evening as the first team travel to Abingdon in a rearranged Southern League match.’