Pike to keep the faith

In-form Borough striker Matt Paterson Picture: Dave Haines
In-form Borough striker Matt Paterson Picture: Dave Haines
0
Have your say

Alex Pike is expected to name an unchanged side for Gosport Borough’s Vanarama Conference South trip to Bath City tonight (7.45pm).

The Borough boss had the luxury of picking from a fully-fit squad for Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Staines and heavily hinted he would keep faith with a line-up that represents his best XI at Twerton Park.

Goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore and back-four mainstays Andy Forbes, Sam Pearce, Brett Poate and Rory Williams have amassed an impressive six league clean sheets between them so far this season.

Meanwhile, Pike’s side boast the meanest defence in the division, having conceded just seven times in 12 games.

A favoured midfield quartet of Danny Smith, Mike Carter, Steve Ramsey and Dan Wooden operate in front, with the onus on in-form strike duo Justin Bennett and Matt Paterson to provide the goals – a role the prolific pair have been revelling in, with 31 goals between them in all competitions this season.

For Pike, it’s a team line-up – suspension and injuries notwithstanding – that is as settled as he has ever known in management.

He said: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever known a period for me as a manager where I haven’t had to tinker with the side.

‘I’ve made changes over the last two or three games but they have been enforced on me because of suspensions.

‘Right now, my team picks itself and it picks itself on merit.

‘I watch what they do during the course of the week and the way they train and the effort they put in and their willingness to learn.

‘It’s very difficult at the moment if you are not in my squad because the starting XI does tend to pick itself.’

Pike’s side travel to Bath ‘full of confidence’, with the seventh-placed side boasting just one loss in their past 13 games in all competitions.

But the Borough boss is expecting a tough challenge from a side who sit one point below them in the league standings – albeit having played two games more.

Pike said: ‘My players are full of confidence – and quite rightly so.

‘But Bath are on a resurgence – they beat Maidenhead 4-0 at the weekend and are winning games at the moment.

‘They are only in and around us because I’ve got games in hand on them, like I have for most teams in this league, though.’

One player who definitely won’t be involved for Pike’s side is former Pompey attacker Ashley Harris, who departed Privett Park on Friday to sign for Wessex League premier division outfit Horndean on a dual-registration basis.

Pike added: ‘When I signed Ashley Harris my intention was to give him the opportunity to play first-team football, but results and the way the team has been playing has meant that hasn’t happened.

‘He’s unlucky but I wish him well at Horndean and we shall monitor him and see how things materialise from there.’

Meanwhile, Gosport have been handed an away trip to Peacehaven & Telscombe in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

Last year’s finalists travel to the Ryman League premier side on Saturday, November 29.