Alex Pike believes Gosport Borough will benefit from suggestions the wheels have come off their season.
Borough crashed to a third straight loss in the 2-1 midweek defeat at bottom-club Staines Town and have managed just one victory in their past seven games in all competitions – the 3-1 derby win over the Hawks on New Year’s Day.
That has seen them drop out of the Vanarama Conference South play-off places but the Borough boss has pointed to the injuries to three of his regular back four as a major reason behind recent results.
Brett Poate, Rory Williams and Andy Forbes have all been sidelined but Poate is close to a return following his calf problem and could feature in tomorrow’s trip to high-flying Basingstoke.
And Pike knows that will give his team a vital boost.
He said: ‘A few people might have written us off and I hope they have.
‘We were under the radar at the start of the season and then we were firmly on it.
‘Hopefully now we have dropped off it again and a few teams may have that attitude against us.
‘We seem to thrive when we are underdogs. That team spirit and togetherness kicks in and I need to tap into that again.
‘The results have tailed off lately.
‘But when you lose three of your regular back four, you are in trouble.
‘It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact.
‘It would be the same if you lose three of your midfield.
‘I think if you rip out three of the regular back four from any team in the division, they would struggle to cope with that.
‘Brett Poate may be back for this one and that would restore our centre-back partnership that has been so successful. Every manager will tell you that this game is about partnerships.
‘You have those partnerships in central defence as Brett and Sam Pearce have had, the right-back and the winger need to have an understanding, the front two – it’s all over the pitch.
‘If you lose 50-per-cent of that successful partnership, you are in trouble.’
Pike opted for a 3-5-2 formation at Staines with Danny Smith playing as sweeper behind Pearce and Robbie Matthews.
But the Borough boss is also attempting to bring in defensive cover with a move for another centre-back in Nathan Walker from Dorchester.
Pike said: ‘We’ve been short of central defenders, although Lee Molyneaux and Robbie Matthews can do a job.
‘But I have agreed a deal with Nathan and Dorchester.’
Spanish winger Paco Saez could also get another opportunity after impressing as a wing-back in the defeat at Staines.
Pike said: ‘Paco Saez hasn’t had much of a chance but he took it with both hands.
‘It has made me have a bit of a rethink.’
Meanwhile, Pike claims he has received no approach from League One side Crawley Town after they were the latest club to be linked with a move for striker Matt Paterson.
‘I haven’t heard anything from Crawley,’ said Pike.
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Molyneaux, Pearce, Poate, Wooden, Smith, Carter, Ramsey, Dunford, Saez, Bennett, Paterson, Wort, Wilde, Muleba, Da Costa, Walker