Borough challenged to show no mercy

Matt Paterson. Picture: Dave Haines
Matt Paterson. Picture: Dave Haines
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Alex Pike has challenged his Gosport Borough players to become more ruthless – despite celebrating a fourth win in five Vanarama Conference South fixtures on Saturday.

Deadly duo Justin Bennett and Matt Paterson were once again the heroes as the Privett Park outfit beat visitors Staines Town 2-1.

But after Elliott Charles netted for the basement boys on 81 minutes, the home side had to endure a nervy finale to the contest.

Pike reckons his side could have put the victory beyond doubt before then and is keen to see them develop that aspect of their game.

The Borough boss said: ‘All managers like to take the positives but you have got to look at the negatives, too, because if you can put them right then it makes you a stronger side.

‘I was disappointed for small periods of the game in the way we had a lot of possession and balls into the box and only came away with two goals.

‘I think if you are going to be hyper-critical you turn around and say “why didn’t we kill them off?”

‘We saw what happened – they went and got a goal and it gave us a hairy nine minutes to circumnavigate.’

Borough survived, however, to extend their unbeaten league run to five games and move into seventh spot in the table.

Bennett and Paterson, who grabbed a goal apiece, now have a combined tally of 31 strikes in all competitions this term.

Pike reiterated his belief he possesses the best strike force in the division – with Bennett topping the charts on 13 goals.

But he also highlighted other areas of their game which have been key to Borough’s recent fine form.

Pike said: ‘There are other good strikers in this league who could take the mantle for being the best striker but I don’t know of another partnership that comes close to them.

‘I can’t think of a better pairing at this level at this present moment in time.

‘They are full of confidence and are scoring goals.

‘Good strikers are not only judged on their goals but also their work-rate.

‘That’s the other thing we get from them – their work-rate is tremendous, they both defend from the front.’

Borough dominated the early stages of the clash with bottom-side Staines.

Steve Ramsey was unfortunate to see a left-footed effort crash back off the crossbar after Dan Wooden had headed off target.

But Pike’s side were not to be denied and hit the front inside 20 minutes when Paterson collected the ball in his stride before calmly advancing into the area to slot home his eighth league goal of the season.

Five minutes into the second half, Gosport had breathing space when leading marksman Bennett notched his 17th in all competitions – volleying home Rory Williams’ inviting cross.

In a rare counter-attack, substitute Charles – making his debut for the Swans – latched on to Jerel Ifil’s cross to give Marcus Gayle’s struggling side late hope.

It mattered little, though, as resolute Borough saw out the game’s final throes to continue their impressive league form and bounce back from last weekend’s 6-3 loss to Colchester United in the FA Cup first round.

GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Forbes, Williams, Carter, Poate, Pearce, Ramsey (Dunford, 73min), Smith, Paterson (Matthews, 78min), Bennett (Wort, 73min), Wooden. Subs not used: Wilde, Molyneaux

Att: 452