MICK CATLIN is hoping Gosport Borough can take full advantage of Pompey’s free Saturday.
The Southern League premier division outfit welcome Bideford to Privett Park tomorrow (3pm).
And with Pompey tackling Walsall tonight, Catlin is calling on Blues fans to turn out and back Borough in their bid to gatecrash the promotion battle.
Borough are currently six points adrift of the play-off places following a draw with south-coast rivals Bashley on New Year’s Day.
But while they have beaten Bideford twice already this term – in the league and FA Cup – Catlin is not expecting an easy ride.
The assistant manager is therefore keen to see the Privett crowd swell to cheer his side on and give them the extra edge which has sometimes been lacking on home turf this term.
‘With Pompey playing tonight at Walsall – rather than tomorrow – perhaps we can expect a few more fans through the turnstiles to support us,’ he said.
‘It promises to be an entertaining contest between two sides who were both promoted to this level last season.
‘We have to expect them to come here and make it very difficult for us.
‘Home advantage did not help us earlier when we failed to win any of our five opening matches.
‘But since then the lads have grown up and risen to the challenge of competing at this level.’
Bedford Town were the last side to defeat Gosport in league competition – way back on November 3.
Since then Borough have won five matches and drawn four in a superb run which has propelled them clear of the relegation scrap.
Justin Bennett has once again been key to their fortunes, as he has rediscovered his form in prolific fashion.
But Catlin reckons the rest of the side deserve a share of the praise as they have improved all over the pitch in the past couple of months.
‘Justin is the league’s top goalscorer,’ said the assistant boss.
‘And although he can take a lot of credit, let’s remember the lads around him have played a major part in creating the opportunities.
‘Defensively we have tightened up considerably. It has been about giving nothing away at the back and taking a greater percentage of our chances.’
Borough’s squad is free from injuries as they hunt for a hat-trick over Bideford.
The only doubt is manager Alex Pike, who is struggling with a virus.
Catlin is prepared to stand in for his boss tomorrow, although he insists Pike will not easily surrender his chance to be on the touchline.
‘I’m quite happy to step in if Alex is not well enough,’ he said.
‘Although, I would be very surprised if he doesn’t turn up in time to tune the lads up in the dressing room before kick-off.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, King, Poate, Dunford, Molyneaux, Pearce, Igoe, Brown, Wilson, Bennett, Wilde, Smith, Woodward, Cook, Wooden, Ford, Martin