Alex Pike commended his players’ second-half reaction after Gosport Borough fought back from a goal down to earn a 3-1 Vanarama Conference South win over Bath City on Saturday.
Play-off chasing Borough trailed at the break – against the run of play – when Romans striker Ross Stearn calmly stroked past Nathan Ashmore following a swift counter-attack from the visitors.
But a second-half own goal, and strikes from Justin Bennett and Dan Wooden were enough for the Privett Park side to turn the result on its head.
Borough boss Pike, whose side now sit in sixth-spot – one place and four points off the play-offs – was relieved his side were not made to pay for early missed chances.
He said: ‘If you look at that first half, we had the best of the game.
‘Rory (Williams) went clean through and didn’t hit the target, Bennett had a free header yet failed to score and Danny Smith could’ve scored from 20 yards too.
‘But one ball over the top had Williams beaten and the striker has made a cool finish.’
Just 30 seconds after the restart though, the home side were level thanks to a Matt Paterson induced own goal.
His shot struck the post and Paul Walsh, unable to clear his lines, put through his own net.
Pike said: ‘I wanted a reaction from the players in the second half and we certainly got it.
‘I never felt that we had to panic, but we did need to up the intensity after half-time.’
The Borough boss knew that he could use Bath’s midweek cup success (a 2-1 FA Trophy quarter-final victory over Conference premier Dover) to his team’s advantage, and felt that came to the fore after the break.
‘They’re going to the FA Trophy semi-finals and we know what that feels like.
‘When the game gets a bit more physical, some of their players start turning their mind towards next week’s game.’
Young midfielder River Allen, who arrived at Gosport on loan from Plymouth at the end of last week, made his debut off the bench at Privett Park and put in a performance to catch the eye of his new boss.
‘River had a good debut – we only finished the paperwork on Friday night,’ said Pike.
‘If you look at his record, he’s 18 and has played four times for Plymouth.
‘You don’t play four times for a pro side by being a bad player.
‘I think he gave us more mobility in midfield and competed physically too.’
Borough keeper Ashmore was another to impress Pike, pulling off a number of saves – with one in particular arriving at a decisive moment in the game.
‘Ashmore pulled off a crucial save when we were 2-1 up to keep us in front,’ said Pike.
‘That was integral in us collecting the three points.’
Pike has now called on his Gosport side to carry their form into Tuesday night’s game at home to Sutton United.
‘All the players know that these next few games will be the hardest of the season.
‘What we need to do, is take Saturday’s second-half performance into the full 90 on Tuesday.’
GOSPORT: Ashmore, Saez, Williams, Robinson, Poate (Allen 24), Pearce, Dunford (45), Smith, Paterson, Bennett, Wooden. Att: 509.