Borough disband reserves but expand academy

Dan Woodward has come through the ranks at Gosport
Dan Woodward has come through the ranks at Gosport
Jason Prior, centre. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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Gosport Borough have disbanded their reserve team midway through their Wyvern Combination League campaign.

The club insist it is part of a strategy to ensure the first teamers of the future are given a better platform to help them progress.

It was felt the standard of Wyvern League football was not a suitable grounding for young players aiming to progress to the first team in the Southern League premier division.

A Gosport statement read: ‘The club would like place on record their thanks to reserve managers Stuart Hensman and Karl Lis and their coach Jason Mann for their hard work, dedication and commitment.

‘We recognise the effort and time they have put in and they have our utmost gratitude.

‘The club also thanks the players who have played for the reserve team.

‘Taking the decision to disband the team mid-season was done after careful thought and after much discussion.

‘The club feels that the gap between its first team, playing in the Southern League premier division and the Wyvern League has grown too wide to be a suitable platform for developing first team players, or for players who might need to step up to first team level.’

Teenager Dan Woodward has been blazing a trail for the young talents making their way through at Privett Park.

The attacking wideman was scouted by Pompey earlier in the season and Borough manager Alex Pike marked him out as a player one day destined for the Football League.

Gosport felt a change of direction was crucial as they bid to ensure more young players can follow Woodward into the first-team picture.

The statement continued: ‘First-team players this season have been dual-signed with local Wessex League clubs to serve the purpose of providing match sharpness and fitness.

‘The main reason behind this decision is one of change and looking to the future and marks a new direction the club is taking with regard to the development of younger players.

‘With the recent emergence of Dan Woodward, a true home-grown player who has come up through the club’s youth system, the club wishes to develop promising young players similar to him who would then progress to the first team from a strong level of youth football.

‘This would be achieved by those players competing in, and learning from, a very high standard of youth football.

‘Gosport Borough FC realise this is a disappointing decision for everyone involved with the reserves and acknowledge there will be disappointment among supporters and also the Wyvern League and would like to apologise for this.’

Borough have also outlined plans to expand the club’s academy next season.

They will be running an extra team in the South West Counties to add to those playing in Hampshire Youth League division one and the English Colleges League.