Boss hails Borough character after Trophy save

Justin Bennett scored both goals for Borough. Picture: Dave Haines
Justin Bennett scored both goals for Borough. Picture: Dave Haines
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Gosport Borough manager Alex Pike praised his side for showing the character required to keep their FA Trophy dreams alive.

The Privett Park outfit came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Basingstoke at the Camrose and earn a replay at home tomorrow night (7.45pm).

Louie Soares opened the scoring for the hosts after just 14 minutes before Justin Bennett converted a penalty following a foul on Matt Paterson.

Substitute Lloyd Macklin put Town back in the ascendancy with just 12 minutes to play.

But Bennett doubled his tally late on with a neat, headed finish to ensure Borough were in the hat for today’s second-round draw.

‘We have some players in there with quality, who don’t give up,’ said Pike.

‘A great header by Justin Bennett into the top corner and we go back to a replay which is nothing more than we deserve.

‘I think we were better than them, had more shots than them and we dominated every statistic apart from the goals.’

It could have been better for the visitors, though – with Pike frustrated by decisions from referee Christopher O’Donnell.

‘There were two critical decisions in the game which I felt the referee got wrong,’ said the boss.

‘When Pato (Matt Paterson) is in the six-yard box and is brought down for a penalty, how that isn’t a goalscoring opportunity, I don’t understand.

‘We score the penalty but their lad doesn’t even get a yellow card.

‘Then there was a blatant handball by Manny Williams.

‘He’s running flat out, handles it, puts it into the box and they score.

‘You thought at one minute that the injustice could have put us out of the competition.’

Much to the relief of boss Pike and Gosport, however, they managed to equalise and force a reply.

Experienced midfield man Adam Wilde came on with around 20 minutes to play and made a big impact, delivering the cross which brought Bennett’s crucial second goal.

Pike said: ‘When you play the diamond shape, you want a bit of creativity in the tip.

‘Someone who has got something in his feet.

‘Everyone knows he (Wilde) has a great left foot and he played very well in that position against Bromley.

‘He was unlucky to be out of the side once we decided to go with a narrow four in midfield.

‘But that’s the beauty of having this squad of players.

‘I am allowed to tinker with the formation and when I do tinker with it – to try to beat the opposition – then you do change the players slightly. He was unlucky to lose out.’

The match was the first of four games against Jason Bristow’s Dragons in little more than a month.

Tomorrow night Borough will host the replay at Privett Park before the Hampshire rivals meet in the Vanarama Conference South on Saturday.

The rivalry is then renewed in the league again in January.

Pike admitted he may make changes for the first of those outings tomorrow.

He said: ‘We are an attacking force going forward and we have a solid back four.

‘There may be adjustments we have to make – they will have had players out on Saturday just as we did.

‘But it will be another tight game – no doubt about it.’