Pike hails Borough character

Borough scorer Matt Paterson Picture: Dave Haines
Borough scorer Matt Paterson Picture: Dave Haines
AFC Portchester cruised to victory. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Alex Pike admitted his side showed character as they returned to winning ways in Vanarama Conference South last night with a 1-0 win against Hayes & Yeading.

The Privett Park side were back in action for the first time following their late 1-0 defeat at Whitehawk on Saturday.

That league loss was Gosport’s first on the road all season and only their third in the division.

But they quickly put the disappointment to bed and moved back up to third in the Conference South table, thanks to Matt Patterson’s solitary strike on 34 minutes.

Pike, who was named the league’s manager of the month for November before kick-off, was aggrieved his side could not increase their winning margin, despite the awful conditions.

Nevertheless, he was delighted to secure the three points on offer – and another clean sheet.

‘It was important to bounce back and we showed a lot of character in very difficult conditions,’ said Pike.

‘The only disappointment was the ratio of goals scored to the chances created.

‘We should have been three or four goals up by half-time.

‘If you miss chances then it can come back and bite you but last night our back four were immense.

‘I can’t complain too much because my two strikers have scored 34 goals between them this season.

‘And we showed why we have the best defensive record in the league.

‘I am happy to collect the three points and go back up to third in the league.’

It was far from easy for both teams in the swirling wind and driving rain, though the home side adapted better in the opening exchanges.

Justin Bennett almost gave Borough a deserved 10th-minute lead with a superb shot on the turn which forced an acrobatic save from Grant Smith.

The visitors then survived an almighty goalmouth scramble from a corner-kick, but Gosport couldn’t force the ball over the line.

After dominating the opening 20 minutes, the hosts were almost caught out by a quick counter-attack.

Striker Nathan Elder was unmarked eight yards out but Nathan Ashmore pulled off a good low save.

When Borough returned to the attack, Smith beat out Danny Smith’s firmly-struck shot through a crowded goalmouth.

The home side’s pressure paid off in the 34th minute, though, when a Smith shot was blocked and Paterson smashed the rebound in from six yards.

Pike’s troops started the second half with the awful conditions in their faces and soon found themselves under pressure.

Ashmore pulled off a superb reaction save to keep out a thunderous Pat Cox header from a corner.

It was hard work for Borough against the elements but they did well to keep the visitors at bay.

The home defence remained well organised, with Sam Pearce and Brett Poate solid in the heart of the back four

Paterson went close to giving Gosport the breathing space of a second goal when his near-post effort was pushed around the upright.

Bennett then missed a great chance to kill the visitors off when he went clear – but the alert goalkeeper managed to deflect his effort past the post.

Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Forbes, Williams, Carter, Poate, Pearce, Wooden, Smith, Paterson, Bennett, Wilde. Subs: Dunford, Molyneaux, Ramsey, Wort, Saez-Ferre