Gosport Borough set to face ex-Pompey player of the year Ricky Holmes in mouthwatering midweek Southern League Hampshire derby

Former Pompey player of the season Ricky Holmes will be among the main Farnborough threats in a mouthwatering Southern League Premier South Hampshire derby with Gosport Borough on Tuesday.

By Simon Carter
Monday, 11th October 2021, 12:27 pm
Ricky Holmes is currently at Farnborough, having been four divisions higher at Northampton this time 12 months ago.
Ricky Holmes is currently at Farnborough, having been four divisions higher at Northampton this time 12 months ago.

Holmes, who was playing in League 1 this time last year for Northampton, is one of a handful of experienced new signings that have helped Farnborough enjoy a great start to the season.

After losing six of their eight games in the pandemic-scarred 2020/21 season, the north Hampshire club leapt above Gosport into second place last weekend. While Gosport were losing 2-1 at home to the Met Police, Farnborough were winning 2-0 at Wimborne to move above Shaun Gale’s side by virtue of scoring more goals.

Holmes was Pompey’s player of the season in 2013/14, named in League 2 team of the season in 2015/16, while at Northampton, and the following season was Charlton’s player of the season in League 1.

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Farnborough boss Spencer Day has also strengthened in 2021/22 with the additions of ex-Hawks pair Nic Ciardini and Jordan Rose - the latter was part of Gale’s Gosport squad last season but was not retained after injury problems - while Sam Deering helped Oxford United win promotion from the National League a decade ago.

Attacking midfielders Reggie Young, on loan from Hemel Hempstead, and Paul Hodges, signed from Slough Town in August, also bring higher division experience.

Striker Ellliott Buchanan, meanwhile, is dual registered from Isthmian League Premier side Kingstonian, where his game time has been limited by the form of ex-Hawks attacker Daniel Ajakaiye.

The two newest Farnborough signings have been brought in on loan from two divisions higher Aldershot - American-born striker Josh Fawole and 19-year-old defender Alfie Saunders.

‘I’m not surprised they are doing so well,’ said Gale. ‘They have brought in senior players with experience of higher levels, and some who could still play at a higher level.

‘It will be another tough, tough game - they’re all tough games, as we know.’

Farnborough have won their last three league games – Buchanan on target twice in a 3-2 success at Merthyr, Hodges netting a double in a 2-0 home win against Truro and Ciardini and Deering notching at Wimborne.

Gale, meanwhile, wants an instant reaction from his squad following their 2-1 home defeat at the weekend to the Met Police, which ended their seven-game unbeaten SLPS run.

‘It’s important to get back on the horse quickly,’ he said.

‘We’ve got three very tough games in a row - Farnborough and Truro away and Hayes & Yeading at home, three fancied sides with players experienced at a higher level.

‘We’ve got a relatively younger squad, but I’m not moaning, I like our squad. We’re building something here.

‘I would have snapped your hand off if you’d offered me 22 points from our first 10 games, and now we have to try and hang in around there.

‘Can we replicate what we’ve done in our first 10 games over the next 10 games? It won’t be easy and we need to go to Farnborough and get something.’

Gale reports no fresh injury concerns from Saturday’s home loss, where new signings Billy Busari and Mason Walsh were on an attack-minded bench.

Busari, 20, had been given his league debut as a sub in the previous week’s win at Dorchester. The one-time Reading academy winger had been at Gosport’s divisional rivals Chesham but has recently moved to Hampshire.

Walsh - son of ex-Pompey striker Paul - has just returned from playing for the New Orleans Jesters in America. Locally, he was previously at Bognor Regis Town.