Poate targets new FA Cup journey

Brett Poate. Picture: Paul Jacobs

Brett Poate. Picture: Paul Jacobs

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Brett Poate insists Gosport Borough cannot afford to take anything for granted as he targets another FA Cup adventure.

The Borough defender played in every game for the Hawks in their famous 2007-08 run to the fourth round, when they played Liverpool – only to be ruled out of the trip to Anfield through suspension.

Tomorrow Borough travel to Devon-based Western League outfit Willand Rovers – the lowest-ranked team left in the competition – with a place in the first round up for grabs.

If they make it through, it would be for the first time in the Privett Park outfit’s history.

But the veteran of so many FA Cup tussles knows exactly what is required as he attempts to make the first round for the sixth time in his career.

He said: ‘I know what the FA Cup is like and I have been in their situation before where you are up against a team from a higher division. I’ve also been on the other side of that.

‘So we are certainly not going to take anything for granted.

‘We could make history for the club and we want to make sure we do it.

‘If you can get into the first round and pull out one of the big sides, it is a fantastic occasion.

‘It still hurts that I missed the Liverpool game. I’m still gutted about it.

‘But I played in the earlier rounds and that was brilliant.

‘We are not getting ahead of ourselves but we would love to get through and get Pompey away. That’s the one I’d like!’

Plenty of teams have shown they can bridge the gap between leagues in the past.

But Borough know they are big favourites to progress and boss Alex Pike is wary of that.

‘Every single one of my players, my staff, the supporters and everyone connected to the club will go to Willand expecting us to win the game,’ said Pike.

‘And that could be our weakness. I’ve got to guard against that.

‘Let’s be honest, if someone had offered us Willand Rovers, we would have taken that draw. I think every other team in the competition would have done as well.

‘Of course, it won’t be easy. Nobody is expecting that at all.

‘I know it’s a postage stamp of a pitch. They will be up for it, they will get in our faces and they will make it difficult for us but it’s up to my players to handle that.

‘We have to remember they play in the Western League.

‘They play in a league where they will not come up against strikers like Justin Bennett and Matt Paterson, or a goalkeeper like Nathan Ashmore or defenders like Sam Pearce and Brett Poate.

‘I could say that about the whole team. I trust my players but it’s down to how they perform on the day.’

And Pike knows his men stand on the verge of history.

He added: ‘My players know that. It’s a fact and if they can’t handle that, they shouldn’t be playing.

‘The pressure of making the FA Cup first round for the first time is nothing compared with trying to get promoted again or playing in the FA Trophy final.

‘I’m not interested in the performance – I just want to win the tie.’

Mike Gosney has completed his loan spell with Poole Town and is back in the squad but Byron Mason is cup-tied.

GOSPORT (from): Ashmore, Forbes, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Carter, Smith, Wooden, Ramsey, Bennett, Paterson, Matthews, Dunford, Harris, Wort, Wilde, Woodward, Saez, Gosney.

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