Pike sees Borough as ‘underdogs’

Gosport Borough skipper Jamie Brown Picture: Mick Young
Gosport Borough skipper Jamie Brown Picture: Mick Young
Matt Tubbs played well against Sutton. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Injuries are big concern but defensive errors also worry Hawks

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Alex Pike has played down his Gosport Borough side’s hopes of reaching Wembley as he insisted: We are massive underdogs.

The Borough boss saw his side turn in a poor display in their midweek 2-0 loss to Whitehawk, which was hardly the ideal preparation for the first part of the mouthwatering FA Trophy semi-final showdown with the Hawks.

But the Privett Park outfit have shown they are capable of rising to the occasion – none more so than in their heroic 2-1 success at Skrill North leaders North Ferriby in the last round.

Pike, however, admits he is worried about facing Lee Bradbury’s side.

‘I was always worried about this game and playing Havant & Waterlooville. They are a good side,’ said Pike.

‘We have always been the underdogs. Our league position dictates that, our form dictates that and their form dictates that.

‘They are on a great run and unbeaten in quite a few games.’

Although Borough’s bid to beat the Skrill South drop has gathered real momentum in recent weeks, they suffered a serious setback in the Whitehawk loss.

And Pike admits he was at something of a loss to explain it.

He said: ‘If I knew what it was down to, I would bottle it up and I would sell it. I have got no idea.

‘I wasn’t very happy, let’s put it that way. It was annoying for me because it was a big game, and if we’d won we would have been out of the bottom three.

‘Too many of my players had a bad night against Whitehawk.

‘We try to prepare the players in the right manner. We try to make sure they are prepared mentally and physically.

‘As much as you try to tell them they have to box off games and can only affect the game they are playing in, there’s no doubt that the players were thinking about the semi-final.

‘But it’s a poor argument and a weak argument.’

Midfielder Danny Smith is expected to shake off a hamstring strain in time for the trip to Westleigh Park, but Borough will be without skipper Jamie Brown, who serves the first of a two-match ban after totting up 10 bookings.

Assistant boss Mick Catlin knows Brown is a big loss to the side.

Catlin said: ‘We know how important he is to us so it’s a massive blow.

‘But, hopefully, he should be available for the second leg, if the Maidenhead game goes ahead on Tuesday.’

That league trip, sandwiched between the two semi-finals has played an influential role in this fixture.

Plenty of Pompey fans have already expressed their disappointment they will be unable to watch the game because it clashes with the AFC Wimbledon fixture at Fratton Park.

The Hawks were keen to move it to Sunday, with conservative estimates of an extra 1,000 on the attendance.

But Pike clearly feels he has been unfairly portrayed in the build-up to tomorrow’s meeting, after the decision was made not to switch the game.

The Borough manager simply felt his players would not have sufficient recovery time between the matches – especially with a crazy run of fixtures heading their way in the next few weeks.

‘We didn’t snub the offer. We politely declined it. There is a big difference,’ said Pike.

The weather may yet have the final say, of course. But with the Blues away at Scunthorpe next weekend, Privett Park should be heaving for the return.