GOSPORT BOROUGH aim to take a giant stride towards promotion to the Southern League premier division tonight when they host Sholing in the play-offs (7.45pm).
Alex Pike’s men know that to reach the final they will need to up the performance level from the 2-1 home win over Bishops Cleeve on Saturday.
Borough relied on goals from Justin Bennett and Adam Wilde to seal the points.
But they had to settle for a third place finish – meaning they would not be guaranteed home advantage in the final, should they get there.
‘It wasn’t our best performance by far,’ said Pike.
‘But remember we have only lost four times this season and can hopefully look forward to progressing beyond Sholing into the final tonight.
‘There is plenty to look forward to.’
Gloucestershire visitors Bishops Cleeve only had themselves to blame for not taking a commanding lead in the first half.
They created numerous chances but Carl Brown, Jamie Hyde and Michael Tambling were all guilty of wasteful finishing.
Borough were not at full strength, with senior players such as Nathan Kirby, Lee Molyneaux, Gavin Jones, Brett Poate and Steve Claridge all out of the starting XI.
And it showed as the away side had things their own way for the best part of an hour.
Borough escaped again when Jake Lee clipped a penalty against keeper Nathan Ashmore’s crossbar.
And the home side finally stirred into life.
Leading scorer Bennett met a superb cross from Wilde to head high into an empty net.
Then after soaking up even more purposeful pressure, Borough were gifted a penalty on 69 minutes.
Cleeve’s Sam Avery handled in the area and the left boot of Wilde did the rest from the spot to double the advantage.
Moments later Brown finally took one of his many chances to pull a goal back, leaving Borough to see out the final 10 minutes for victory.
Pike added: ‘It was a question of who to bring in with so many senior players missing for one reason or another.
‘But the important thing is we won the match and can look forward to a big crowd at Privett Park tonight for the play-off semi-final against Sholing.
‘We always knew Bishops Cleeve would be a tough side to beat but for us the turning point came when we managed to get ourselves into the lead.’