Pike’s relief as Pearce helps shore up Borough

Sam Pearce. Picture: Paul Jacobs
Sam Pearce. Picture: Paul Jacobs
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Sam Pearce made a welcome return as Gosport Borough slugged out a 0-0 draw at Concord Rangers in National League South.

Pearce was recalled from his loan at Farnborough to replace the injured Brett Poate and bolster the heart of the Borough defence.

Ryan Woodford also returned from illness to partner him at the back and manager Alex Pike was full of praise for the pair.

‘It is no coincidence that Sam Pearce returns and we keep our first clean sheet for a while,’ said Pike.

‘Brett Poate has done a fantastic job but when he got injured we were forced to play people out of position.

‘Now with Pearce and Woodford together we have an experienced pair who played a lot together when they were at the Hawks.

‘They know each other’s game and that helps a lot.

‘I have not seen a better centre-half than Woodford in our league all season and having the two of them in there makes a massive difference.

‘Concord didn’t have a shot inside our area all afternoon.

‘Our goalkeeper wasn’t stretched and in the second half we created most of the chances.

‘Last season we had the best defensive record in the league and we need to get back to keeping more clean sheets.’

Chances were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes.

When Steve Cawley did get through for the hosts he could only fire his shot straight at Nathan Ashmore in the visitors goal.

After the break it was Borough who went closest to breaking the deadlock in a swift counter-attacking move.

Justin Bennett played the ball through to Lee Wort whose low left-foot shot bounced back off the post.

Wort also had another effort saved by the keeper but Borough could not find a way through.

Concord’s best chance fell to Lewis Taafe who headed wide after Ashmore could only partially save a shot from substitute Sam Bantick.

‘I can’t remember their centre-half or full-backs crossing the halfway line – particularly in the first half,’ said Pike.

‘It is never an easy place to come and it provided a real test of mettle for us.

‘I thought we came through that with flying colours.

‘The point keeps us right in the play-off frame with two home games up next.

‘If we can win those then it will help us put a bit of daylight between us and the chasing clubs.’

Defender Poate is expected to be out for at least another three weeks after aggravating a leg injury on the artificial surface at Maidstone United.

Pike has also recalled midfielder Luke King from his loan at Fleet Town.

Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Williams, Carter, Woodford, Pearce, Barker, Robinson, Wort, Bennett, Wooden. Att: 235