The play-offs may now be out of their reach but Gosport Borough still have plenty to play for in their remaining two National League South games.
That’s the message from assistant boss Mick Catlin ahead of tomorrow’s penultimate fixture at Eastbourne Borough (3pm).
Last weekend’s 6-1 loss to Chelmsford all-but ended hopes of a top-five finish for Alex Pike’s side but with the small matter of potential contracts to be earned for next season, Catlin does not expect the season to fizzle out.
Indeed, any suggestions that ninth-placed Borough have nothing left to play for have been dismissed, with Gosport’s assistant insistant they will remain competitive till the end.
Catlin said: ‘Looking at tomorrow from the players’ point of view, the motivation has to be they are playing for a contract next season, in theory.
‘No-one wants to finish on a low point and end the season on the back of a run of defeats because that tends to be what we as management are going to remember.
‘We will be instilling the message to the players to leave us on a positive and give us something to think about when we are looking to reengage people for next season.
‘I am sure the players, with the character they have showed this season, will bounce back in the last two games.
‘We owe it to the league that we are competitive in every game – and we give 100 per cent.
‘Other teams’ lives depend on it so you have to respect the league and respect the teams in it, and that is what we will be doing.’
One player who could be in line for a return next season is Tom Dunford, with the midfielder back in action at Privett Park after reneging on a decision he made earlier in the campaign to quit football at the age of 24.
Catlin said: ‘Tom had to pack up because of work commitments.
‘He started a new business and lives on the Isle of Wight, so the time committed to it for him is a lot greater than the other lads who live locally.
‘He had to make a decision and unfortunately had to step away.
‘But with the injuries we had and the limited squad size, we had to try to call on people who were still registered to us and Tom was one of those.
‘I rang him and asked if he would come and help us out.
‘He said he would try to do it when he could around his work and that Saturdays are easier than midweek.
‘He is now committed to playing whenever he can and we are hopeful he will be in the squad tomorrow.
‘He is a good National League South player who has come back in and made a difference and been one of the positives to come out of the last few weeks.’
And with a year still to run on his contract, Catlin is hopeful that Dunford will be plying his trade with Borough once again next term.
Catlin added: ‘Tom missed the football and still has another year on his contract if he wants to carry on playing.
‘We are keen to keep him at the club.
‘I think he has got the appetite back and we are hoping to persuade him to fully commit next season and fit it in around his new business.’