Gosport Borough view tomorrow’s visit to Hitchin Town as a ‘must-win’ game as they look to get their Southern League premier division play-off bid back on track.
After going a mammoth 23 league matches unbeaten, two defeats over the Easter holidays dented Borough’s promotion chances, although they remain in fifth place on goal difference.
But with three clubs breathing down their necks, Gosport assistant manager Mick Catlin knows there is little margin for error.
‘After our disappointing Easter we now face a real test of character,’ said Catlin.
‘Our long, unbeaten run was bound to come to an end at some stage.
‘It is how we deal with the situation that is important.
‘We can’t afford to feel sorry for ourselves and have to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.
‘Otherwise we can easily find ourselves slipping out of the play-off places.
‘It is so tight at the top and it looks like going to the wire.’
Borough’s 23-game unbeaten run came to an end in a 1-0 home defeat by Arlesey Town last Saturday, before a 3-2 loss at financially-troubled AFC Totton 48 hours later added to their misery.
It is believed the Totton players threatened to go on strike before the game because of owed wages.
Catlin was quick to scotch rumours that Borough also failed to pay their players in the past two weeks, with just a short delay occuring instead.
‘The players were paid on Saturday and everything is up to date as far as we are concerned,’ he said.
‘It isn’t always easy at our level and all the managers I have spoken to have suffered similar situations this season.
‘It is very much a hand-to-mouth existence when games get called off because of the weather.’
Gosport look like they will have to do without leading goalscorer Justin Bennett for at least two to three weeks after the striker suffered ankle-ligament damage.
Although it is a blow to their play-off hopes, Borough are consoled by the fact that fellow strikers Rory Williams and Dan Wooden continue to find the net on a regular basis.
Experienced midfielder Jamie Brown also returned on Monday after suspension.