Hawks and Gosport Borough temporarily kissed goodbye to their friendly rivalry as they prepared to do battle for a place at Wembley.
Lee Bradbury and Alex Pike were in jovial spirits at the pre-match photo call at Fratton Park yesterday, with the Borough boss even planting a smacker on his counterpart’s cheek at one stage.
But as the first leg of the FA Trophy semi-final at Westleigh Park approaches, friendship and mutual respect will be put on hold.
Borough boss Pike said: ‘We have got a mutual respect for one another, whether that’s as manager, at boardroom level or on the pitch.
‘But it has to stop at 3pm tomorrow. It’s winner takes all for a place at Wembley over two games.
‘It will be a cut and thrust non-league derby and there will be no quarter given.’
Bradbury expects a typically fiery derby clash after his side earned a 3-0 win in the league fixture on Boxing Day.
The Hawks boss said: ‘We’re trying to look at it as just another game but as it’s Gosport, it will have some added bite.
‘The game on Boxing Day definitely had a derby feel to it.
‘And there are a number of players who have left us and now play for Gosport, so that adds to it.
‘It’s great for the area to have two clubs in this position and going for a place at Wembley. There’s a real buzz.’
And while Bradbury was happy to hold the trophy, Pike was decidedly more superstitious and snubbed the chance.
Bradbury smiled: ‘Alex wouldn’t touch it but I’m not superstitious like that.
‘How can holding the trophy have any influence on the result?
TROPHY PREVIEW n Pages 70-71