Pike close to final call

Nathan Ashmore
Nathan Ashmore
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Alex Pike expects to have his Gosport Borough squad in place by the weekend after seeing his side held to a 1-1 draw at Dorchester in their latest pre-season friendly.

A cracking first-half Steve Ramsey drive gave Borough the lead at the Avenue Stadium, before Alex Godfrey levelled matters midway through the second half, following a rare error from Nathan Ashmore.

The Magpies’ veteran goalkeeper, Alan Walker-Harris, was then in inspired form as he made a string of fine saves, with Ramsey, Justin Bennett, Stuart Green and Jack Odam among those to be denied.

But with Pike fielding his first-team squad, he will now give another opportunity to four trialists in the trip to Folland Sports tomorrow night before he makes a final decision.

Pike said: ‘I’ve released three or four of the lads on trial but the others will play against Folland on Thursday.

‘It’s unfair to keep players who I don’t think are what we are looking for.

‘But I want to have another look at these players and then I will make a decision after that game.

‘Then I will have my squad pretty much finalised.’

Ex-Fulham Academy defender, Anthony Giles, former Fleet man Danilo Cadete and Salisbury duo Sam Roberts and Adam Flint are still at the club and hoping to earn contracts.

Former Pompey midfielder, George Colson, who was also on trial, is out injured with an ankle injury but Pike has left the door open for him when he returns to fitness.

‘George turned his ankle in training but I will definitely revisit that when he is fit again,’ said Pike.

‘I would like to operate with a 22-man squad and at the moment I have 19.

‘That leaves me a bit of room to pick up some other players that might be around, but I’m nearly there.’

While Pike was delighted with his former Hawks midfielder – especially after a fine goal – he voiced his concerns that so many other good chances went begging.

Pike said: ‘Steve has been our star man in pre-season so far.

‘He has come back with a point to prove and he looks fit.

‘Everyone knows his qualities going forward but his defensive qualities were in question – they certainly haven’t been for me.

‘He has worked very hard and I’m just happy he’s signed a contract with us. It’s good to see a midfield player striking a ball that like for his goal.

‘It was unstoppable but it had to be as Walker-Harris was in great form.

‘Their goalkeeper was by far the man of the match. We had half-a-dozen golden chances and he made some great saves.

‘But if I’m being critical, we are not being clinical enough in front of goal and that needs addressing.’

While Walker-Harris shone for the home side, Ashmore failed to deal with a shot that he should have saved.

And after letting the shot through his hands, he was unable to claw it back before it was adjudged to have crossed the line.

Pike said: ‘Unfortunately, it was an error from Nathan that led to the goal but it’s better to get those out of the way in pre-season.

‘I’m not sure it crossed the line, but in the absence of goal-line technology I guess I have to trust the linesman!’