Alex Pike has dismissed the Hawks’ pursuit of star striker Justin Bennett and insisted: They are not very good at mind games.
Relations between the two National League South rivals were already strained but have soured even further after the Hawks countered Borough’s failed bid for Matt Paterson with their approach for Bennett.
After an initial £10,000 bid was rejected, the Hawks’ improved £12,500 offer was also dismissed for the 33-year-old, who has already scored 16 goals this season ahead of tomorrow’s showdown with table-topping Ebbsfleet at Privett Park (3pm).
And the Borough boss did not hold back with his views.
Pike said: ‘I find it quite laughable.
‘I think they are playing mind games – Lee Bradbury is not very good at them and nor is Derek Pope (Hawks chairman).
‘And people at their club have criticised Gosport for supposedly not being professional.
‘I put in a bid for Matt Paterson and we were told by the chairman they wouldn’t sell him to us for £100,000.
‘So if they value Matt Paterson at £100,000 then Justin Bennett has to be worth at least £250,000.
‘Our player is a recognised goalscorer while theirs still has it to prove.
‘I think they know full well they are never going to get Justin Bennett but it’s just a little game they are playing.
‘If I was a Havant & Waterlooville fan I would be asking some questions.
‘They had Paterson on loan but it wasn’t until after his year at Borough that they recognised how good he was.
‘Two of the strikers they let go – Bradley Bubb and Ben Wright – are now near the top of the scoring charts.
‘Why couldn’t they score for them?’
Although a move to Hawks would probably offer Bennett improved wages, Pike believes that is not the club record goalscorer’s motivation.
He said: ‘Football is not his main income. He is in the financial world and he is doing very nicely for himself.
‘Everyone likes to get paid but money is not an issue to him.
‘I think that’s where Havant & Waterlooville lose sight of things. It’s not all about money – it is about enjoyment and passion.
‘Sometimes when you set your standards high and you think you are a professional club, you lose those key elements from the non-league game.
‘Justin and I have a strong personal bond. He has got three years on his contract and he has committed himself to the club.
‘He is not for sale. But at £12,500, I think they would be wasting their money on a striker anyway. I do have a centre-half if they need one of those.’
With Pike’s move for Paterson knocked back, he has switched his attentions to former Pompey striker Rowan Vine, who left Westleigh Park this week.
Pike said: ‘He rung me to tell me that his registration had been cancelled.
‘He looked like he was going to Basingstoke but I think he would be a very useful signing for us. Hopefully, he will be in the squad.’
GOSPORT: (from) Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Woodford, Poate, Williams, Wheeler, Carter, Dunford, Wooden, Barker, Bennett, Gerrard, Ramsey, Wilde, White, Vine, Wort, Bryce