Pike in balancing act for Gosport’s league finale

Gosport manager Alex Pike

Gosport manager Alex Pike

Aaron Dawson

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Gosport Borough are still eyeing second spot as they host Bishops Cleeve in their final game of the regular Southern League south & west campaign at Privett Park (3pm).

Borough are already guaranteed a home semi-final play-off game against Sholing or Hungerford on Monday night.

If Poole Town slip up against champions Bideford, Borough could also leapfrog the Dorset side into second place.

That would also guarantee Borough home advantage in the final if they come through their last-four clash.

‘Dropping two points at Mangotsfield last week was disappointing because it handed the initiative to Poole,’ said Gosport boss Alex Pike.

‘That is now out of our hands but we have got the task of preparing for a semi-final.

‘We haven’t been beaten since the start of the new year and we want to keep that run going.

‘At the same time, I also need to protect some of the players who are suffering from knocks.

‘I rested a few players last week and will have to look at the situation again.

‘When all is done and dusted, I want to be able to field the strongest line-up in the semis.’

Pike admits this is new territory for his side after falling short of the play-offs in the past few years.

As a club, Gosport have enjoyed a terrific season, with the reserves and women’s section all enjoying success.

Borough would love to put the icing on the cake by gaining promotion to the premier division but know it won’t be easy.

Pike paid tribute to the role of chairman Mark Hook who he believes has made a big difference.

‘Our chairman has been brilliant providing a good budget which gives the players confidence,’ said Pike.

‘We have been able to make some significant signings including goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore and defenders Brett Poate and Lee Molyneaux.

‘As a manager I have always built my teams up from a strong defence.

‘We have certainly had that and, in striker Justin Bennett, we have the best goalscorer in the league.

‘Having a reserve team has also given us greater depth and more options at times.’

Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Poate, Woodward, Cooke, Martin, McCormick, Wilde, Feeney, Humble, Way, Ford, Bennett, Claridge, Boswell, Langworthy, Wooden, Norton.

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