Gosport Borough boss Alex Pike intends to use tonight’s Hampshire Senior Cup tie against the Hawks at Privett Park (7.45pm) to prime his squad for the busy Christmas period.
With neither club possessing reserve teams it is likely they will both use the occasion to give some of their fringe players a run out.
Both teams are also pushing for the Vanarama Conference South play-offs and that is likely to remain their priority.
Pike, however, believes he can field a side capable of progressing and going on to improve on last season’s semi-final finish.
‘We want to win all the games we go into, especially when it is a local derby,’ said Pike.
‘The importance of our Christmas games is no secret and I will need to have all my squad match-fit and available.
‘That is why I have already sent players like Robbie Matthews and Dan Woodward out on loan.
‘A number of my other players have not had game time because we have had a settled side for some time now.
‘It has been difficult to make changes while we have been on our good run.
‘This might be an opportunity to give some of those players some game time against good opposition.’
Lee Molyneaux, Adam Wilde, Paco Saez, Lee Wort, Steve Ramsey and Tom Dunford could be in line for a start against the Hawks.
Borough are top of the division’s form guide and showed their knock-out pedigree with a 4-0 FA Trophy win at Peacehaven & Telscombe.
Pike will be looking for his team to keep their cup hold on the Hawks, who they beat over two legs in last season’s FA Trophy semi-final.
On that occasion Borough showed themselves to be far more resilient than their opponents.
Arguably, Borough are stronger again this season and will fancy their chances of maintaining their superiority.
Pike might prefer the game was being played at Westleigh Park with his team boasting an unbeaten away record this season.
With the two teams meeting again in the league on Boxing Day and New Years Day, a little bit of shadow boxing might be expected.
It is an opportunity, though, for one team to strike a psychological blow before they go head-to-head with vital league points at stake.
‘We are expecting two titanic league tussles over the holiday period,’ said Pike.
‘Any sensible football fan will know that whatever happens in tonight’s cup tie will have little bearing on the league meetings.
‘No-one wants to lose a local derby.
‘It will be a chance for a few players to show what they can do.’
Meanwhile, Borough, last season’s FA Trophy runners-up, have been handed a Hampshire derby at Basingstoke Town in the first-round proper of the competition.
The draw, which was made at Wembley yesterday, also saw the Hawks drawn away to Weymouth.
The 32 ties are scheduled to be played on Saturday, December 13, with the winners each picking up £5,000 from The FA’s prize fund.