Alex Pike is ready to tap into the experience of Gosport Borough’s FA Trophy run to avoid the inevitable distractions this weekend.
Borough return to league action tomorrow as they travel to Farnborough in Vanarama Conference South and bid to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 11 games.
But although it’s impossible to ignore next Sunday’s historic FA Cup first-round clash at home to Colchester, Pike’s men coped admirably when they faced similar problems last term on their famous run to Wembley.
Pike said: ‘We’ve got the experience of last season in the FA Trophy run.
‘We managed to concentrate on each game as it came along.
‘I was really pleased with the way we managed to do that and I expect the players to be able to do that again.
‘Of course it’s hard to forget about it and concentrate on the league game but that’s what we must do.
‘I work on things for the commercial side for two days per week and we get one hit at this so it’s tough for me as well.
‘But the players have got to get themselves ready because the Farnborough game is more important at the moment.
‘I haven’t picked the team for Colchester yet. Places are up for grabs.’
Midfielder Mike Carter is ruled out tomorrow with a one-match ban, while skipper Sam Pearce faces the heartache of missing out on the FA Cup clash next weekend after collecting a fifth yellow card of the season at Willand Rovers last Saturday.
Pike added: ‘Suspensions are starting to bite.
‘Mike Carter is out this week and, more disappointingly, Sam Pearce will miss out against Colchester.
‘Referees have three things in their armoury: they can talk to players, they can book them or they can send them off.
‘Sometimes they don’t realise the implications of dishing out a soft yellow card as it was last week.
‘At the time, the referee probably didn’t think it meant much but it meant a lot to the lad because he now misses out playing in the first round of the FA Cup.
‘You get very frustrated with that, although some might argue if you get five bookings by the end of October, you deserve to get banned.’
Ben Gerring returns from his loan spell at Bideford and may get some game time, with a view to replacing Pearce next weekend.
Tom Dunford, Byron Mason and Adam Wilde are pushing to replace Carter but former Pompey man, Ashley Harris, has been told to stay patient as he waits for his chance.
Pike said: ‘It’s a tough one for Ashley but it’s not just him. There are other good players who all want to play just as much and have to wait.
‘We are undefeated in 10 matches in all competitions so it’s very difficult to start changing the side around unless they are enforced.
‘I’m a firm believer in the ethos “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” so I don’t want to start tinkering.
‘I promised Ashley the opportunity to play when I signed him and I meant that.
‘He’s a player I admire but he just has to wait until it’s the right time.’
GOSPORT (from): Ashmore, Forbes, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Smith, Wooden, Ramsey, Paterson, Bennett, Molyneaux, Matthews, Dunford, Mason, Wort, Harris, Woodward, Wilde, Gerring, Saez, Gosney.