Gosport Borough slipped back into the Skrill South relegation zone as they went down to a 2-0 loss at Sutton United in their last game before Sunday’s FA Trophy final.
Goals either side of half-time from Gavin McCallum and Jamie Taylor consigned a much-changed Borough side to defeat as Pike rested some of his key players ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Cambridge.
And the Borough boss admitted a few minds had been elsewhere.
Pike made seven changes to the side who beat Boreham Wood 2-1 at the weekend, as Gareth Barfoot, Andy Forbes, Jack Kerrigan, Sammy Igoe, Danny Smith, Mike Gosney and Rory Williams all returned.
That meant there was no place even in the squad for Nathan Ashmore, Brett Poate, Ryan Scott, Josh Carmichael or Tim Sills, who are all expected to feature at Wembley.
But Pike insisted he was not fielding a weakened side and was keen to give some of his squad members a last chance to stake a claim for selection in the showpiece.
‘I made a few changes and a lot of those are key players that I had in mind for Wembley,’ said Pike.
‘But it doesn’t mean that players who were involved will not start on Sunday. I’ve got a large squad so I didn’t feel I was weakening the side.
‘I wanted to go into the weekend with everyone feeling they had been given a fair crack of the whip and I don’t think anyone can point the finger at me and say that’s not the case.
‘But I think a few minds were on Wembley.
‘I’m not saying it was a motivation issue but we were disjointed and we weren’t very brave on the ball.
‘But who is going to put a foot in, get injured and risk missing out at the weekend?
‘Normally you would have a blank week prior to a big event but it wasn’t and we had to put up with it.
‘But the two goals either side of half-time killed us.
‘Once we went 2-0 down, there was no coming back from it.’
Although it was a setback, Borough’s recent league form has been impressive, with 10 points out of 15 – reaching the target Pike had set his men five games ago.
‘I knew I had those five games before Wembley,’ added Pike.
‘I set the target of 10 points out of 15 and I knew this would be the hardest one. So I knew that anything we got out of it would be a bonus.’
Pike also confirmed he has decided on the team that will start against Cambridge, although there are still one or two decisions to be made.
He said: ‘I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t got my team in my head. There may be one or two positions that I will look at, so it’s not fully cemented.
‘It’s not about who got us there. Loyalty does not come into it.
‘I’ve got to do what’s best for Gosport Borough, not the players.
‘I will pick a side that can win the trophy on the day. There will be no sentiment or favours.
‘I won’t be frightened to make decisions and if it upsets people, I’m sorry but tough.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Barfoot, Molyneaux, Forbes, Pearce, Kerrigan, Igoe (Wooden, 70), Smith, Brown, Gosney, Williams (Woodward, 70), Bennett (Prior, 70).
Unused subs: Wilde, Dunford