Home comfort vital for promotion-chasing Gosport

Scott Ashley. Picture: Malcolm Wells (13959-6869)
Scott Ashley. Picture: Malcolm Wells (13959-6869)
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Gosport & Fareham are gunning for end of season glory against Maidstone in the London two play-off tie at Gosport Park.

The home side finished as runners up in London two south west and now face their south east counterparts in a one-off game.

The prize for the winners is promotion to London one south and for Gosport & Fareham it would mean an instant return after last season’s relegation.

Scott Ashley is convinced the club are ready to step back up.

‘This is a game we want to win,’ said the Gosport & Fareham coach.

‘There is an appetite among the players and the club to go back up.

‘We learned a lot last season which was a baptism of fire and it made us realise the difference in commitment levels between the two leagues.

‘As a club, if we go up again then we will be better prepared to cope with it.

‘We are determined to make that step.’

After last season’s relegation woes, Gosport have bounced back in the best possible fashion.

They showed their intent by going unbeaten through the first half of the season.

The old problem of player unavailability reared it’s head in the second half of the campaign, though.

A few unexpected defeats left Ashley’s team having to settle for the runners-up spot and a place in the play-offs.

Crucially, though, they earned themselves the right to stage the game at Gosport Park where they have remained unbeaten in the league all season.

‘We are unbeaten at home and want to keep that record,’ said Ashley.

‘I am expecting another big crowd and our vocal supporters are like a 16th player.

‘We are glad we are not the side having to make an early start and travel to the game.’

However, Ashley is under no illusions that his team will face anything less than a stern test from the Kent visitors.

The two sides met in a pre-season friendly and Maidstone will once again present a strong physical presence.

Both teams are powerful up front and possess a potent threat in the three-quarters.

‘It looks like we will have one heck of a game on our hands,’ said Ashley.

‘I am expecting it to be a close, hard-fought encounter and we will need to be firing on all cylinders.

‘It will be important we adopt the correct game plan and stick to it.

‘We have the ability to turn defence into attack quickly and must try to exploit that.

‘Patience and discipline will be key factors in deciding the issue.

‘We have proved before in cup games we have the temperament to win this type of match.

‘It will be a test of nerve but we have good experience in our team to cope.’

Ashley is hoping to field his strongest possible squad for the winner-takes-all contest.