Alex Pike has called on his Gosport Borough side to bounce back to winning ways at Concord Rangers tomorrow (3pm).
National League South promotion-chasers Borough saw a run of three successive victories come to an end last weekend at Maidstone in what proved to be an afternoon to forget.
Pike’s side looked good value for a point at the Gallagher Stadium before being hit by a cruel stoppage-time sucker punch to lose 2-1.
And Gosport’s misery was made worse by the calf injury aggravated by central-defender Brett Poate on the Stones’ 3G pitch, which left the visitors with only one recognised central defender in their ranks.
With key defender Ryan Woodford sidelined before kick-off by illness and fellow centre-halves Sam Pearce and Luke King out on loan, 19-year-old Adam Brice was paired with central midfielder Andy Robinson in a makeshift pairing.
The good news for Borough is that Woodford is expected to play tomorrow as Pike calls on his side to rediscover their winning formula.
He said: ‘Whenever you lose a game you always look for a reaction from your players.
‘You never want to lose two on the bounce.
‘It is important we get back to winning ways.
‘And I am sure if we get back to our habits and stick to our game plan which has served us so well this season then we should do well tomorrow.
‘The strength in depth we had in central defence has been taken away from me, though.
‘We put young Adam Brice in alongside Andy Robinson, who is a central midfielder, which was not ideal.
‘Ryan Woodford was ill before the game so couldn’t travel and Brett limped out on 20 minutes with a recurring calf problem.
‘Those types of injuries will get found out on a pitch like that – we have got to remember it is just a carpet laid on concrete, that’s all it is.
‘Brett is now going to be out for two to three weeks but Ryan will be back.’
Pike will now assess the depth of his squad before making a decision as to whether long-term absentee Luke King is handed a return to action at Concord tomorrow.
He said: ‘Luke has the opportunity of staying one more week at Fleet.
‘He could get another two 90 minutes under his belt there.
‘It depends on how badly my squad is depleted – if I need to bring him back in I will do.’
Regardless of who is selected, Pike has insisted he won’t be taking his Essex-based opponents lightly.
He added: ‘Concord have always been a strong, physical side and on Canvey Island it is always a difficult place to go, we know that.
‘We will be up for the challenge and relish it.
‘One thing we have learned from being in the Conference South is that anyone can beat anyone on their day,
‘We certainly won’t take Concord lightly – we will give them the respect they deserve.
‘But we will go in there looking for a win.’