Pike savouring two Christmas crackers

Borough boss Alex Pike is relishing his side's double-banker with the Hawks over the Christmas holidays
Borough boss Alex Pike is relishing his side's double-banker with the Hawks over the Christmas holidays
Ryan Pennery netted for Moneyfields. Picture: Neil Marshall (171026-11)

Trophy dream is over for Moneys

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Gosport Borough and the Hawks have been handed early Christmas presents following the release of the 2013-14 Blue Square Bet South fixtures.

The local sides will go head-to-head twice over the festive period, with Westleigh Park staging the first competitive fixture between the clubs in years on Boxing Day.

Privett Park will then be on hand to welcome the Hawks on New Year’s Day.

Both sides’ campaigns will be well under way by then, with the duo kicking off their seasons on Saturday, August 17.

Borough face a tough start to their first-ever term in the division.

They will face last season’s beaten play-off finalists Dover Athletic at home on the opening day.

Meanwhile, Lee Bradbury’s side travel to promotion-favourites Ebbsfleet.

But it’s the festive fixtures that will generate most interest at the turnstiles, with both clubs anticipating bumper crowds.

‘I think both clubs will be happy about it because the two games should bring the fans through the gates,’ said Borough boss Pike.

‘Ever since I have managed Gosport we have been in the shadow of the Hawks and we have a lot of respect for them.

‘Now we are at the same level, I am looking forward to a good, friendly rivalry.

‘We intend to be competitive, but in a good way, because we have seen in recent years the bitterness of the Hawks’ rivalry with Eastleigh.

‘It won’t be like that with us.

‘We have a lot of respect for the Hawks, the way they are run and what they have achieved over the years.

‘The people at Havant have been very helpful to us since we have been promoted and we have been able to pick up the phone and speak with them.

‘They have a lot of experience at this level.’

One player, in particular, who will be looking forward to the games will be central defender Sam Pearce, who joined Borough from the Hawks this week.

Pearce still had a year to run on his contract at Westleigh Park but was clearly surplus to manager Bradbury’s requirements.

Pike was quick to add the experienced defender to his ranks, bringing some physical presence to the heart of his defence.

‘Sam is still relatively young and hungry to prove some people wrong,’ said Pike.

‘He fits the blueprint at Borough and has experience of playing at Conference South level.’

Pearce joins other ex-Hawks Nathan Ashmore, Sammy Igoe, Paul Hinshelwood and Brett Poate at Privett Park.

They’re experience at this level will be essential – particularly with the tough start to the season Borough face.

‘We couldn’t ask for a bigger game to start the season,’ said Pike.

‘I watched Dover in the play-off final last season and know they are a good side.

‘In Chris Kinnear they have a very experienced manager and they will be keen to make up for last season’s disappointment.’

After the season-opener, Borough travel to Basingstoke Town (Aug 20), before hosting Bath City the following Saturday.