‘Odds stacked against’ Gosport & Fareham for tough trip

Skipper Ben Madigan has been in fine form for Gosport & Fareham this season
Skipper Ben Madigan has been in fine form for Gosport & Fareham this season
Dylan Raubenheimer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Depleted Gosport & Fareham expect to have their work cut out in their visit to fourth-placed Wimbledon in London one south (3pm).

The visitors are forced to make three changes because of unavailabilities and coach Mark Wells admits his side will do well to spring a surprise.

‘The odds are stacked against us,’ said Wells.

‘I am expecting a really hard game and have no doubt it is going to be tough.

‘Going there missing key players doesn’t help.

‘It is a shame after we thumped bottom side Old Colfeians last weekend but we will go there, give it our best shot, and see where that takes us.

‘Our shape and structure was very good in the last game and showed we were starting to get back to where we were last season.

‘We played well but it still wasn’t at last season’s level.

‘All I am looking for is for us to keep maintaining our level of performance.

‘We were very competitive against Sidcup two weeks ago when they were lying fourth in the table and only lost in the last 10 minutes.’

Wimbledon will be another step up again.’

Sam Foster, Ash Burton (work) and Matt Smith (competing in the Great South Run) are all missing.

Wells is pleased with the progress his team are making and the recent return of experienced players have strengthened his hand.

He insists that, if he can put his strongest team on the pitch, Gosport & Fareham can easily survive at this level.

Stepping up after last season’s promotion hasn’t been easy but Wells’ side are now gradually finding their feet.

One of the key factors in that steadying of the ship is captain Ben Madigan, who led by example with a try inside the first minute of last weekend’s match.

Madigan, who is based with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm at Yeovilton, has been outstanding in the early games.

‘He reminds me a little of myself as a player,’ said Wells.

‘He is a hard-nosed back-row player and maybe not big enough to be a number eight or quick enough to be an open-side wing forward.

‘But he makes up for that with his aggressive, dynamic marauding style.

‘He has improved tremendously because he used to fade away in games but now he remains full-on throughout.

‘The lad leads on the pitch, both vocally and by his own performance, and has an important part to play in the next few months.

‘For us, it will be all about getting the right players on the pitch.

‘If we can do that then I expect us to finish in mid-table.

‘We don’t want to be involved in the struggle at the bottom.’