Gosport Borough v Bideford: Midweek loss useful reminder for FA Cup hopes

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Alex Pike believes the midweek Hampshire Senior Cup exit has actually done his Gosport Borough side a favour.

While he was disappointed at the loss to AFC Portchester after a penalty shoot-out, the Borough boss knows tomorrow’s home clash with Bideford is the more important game with lucrative prize money of £4,500 up for grabs even at this early stage in the FA Cup.

Pike rested several key first-teamers in midweek and he believes the result will have served as a reminder to his players that they cannot take any opponents lightly.

He said: ‘At any level of football, when you are expected to win, those expectations can bring a burden.

‘I watched Bideford in midweek and they lost 3-0 but they can come and play without fear.

‘If we don’t put in a performance, we could be on the wrong end of things.

‘If they needed a kick up the pants, they got it the other night.

‘They know if they don’t put a shift in and apply themselves, they could end up losing the game.

‘I wouldn’t say it was a shock to lose the game in midweek.

‘I had five lads who hadn’t played much football and two in Sam Pearce and Adam Bryce who were making their first starts of the season.

‘With the selection, I had to have a look at it with the FA Cup coming up and the injury list that we’ve got at the moment. So I couldn’t afford to risk Justin Bennett, Rory Williams and Brett Poate.

‘We should have won the game but I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it.

‘There are bigger priorities for us.’

The extra FA Cup revenue would certainly be a welcome boost to the coffers after Borough reached the first round proper last season.

Pike said: ‘We want to emulate what we did last season, if not better it.

‘Even though we don’t plan anything in the budget for FA Cup prize money, it does form an important revenue stream if you can get a run. Every club will tell you that.

‘It’s £4,500 if we get through this one and that is two weeks’ wages for us.’

There is mixed news on the injury front though.

Skipper Sam Pearce is fearing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after a recurrence of his knee injury in midweek, but Ben Harding is set to return after a hamstring problem.

Pike said: ‘Sam has done his knee again and it looks like he could be out for a long time.

‘He passed the ball back to the keeper and felt it pop.

‘Unfortunately, it could be weeks or months. We don’t know yet.

‘But I’m 99-per-cent sure that Ben Harding will make his return after a hamstring injury and it will be good to have him back.’

GOSPORT: (from) Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Woodford, Poate, Bryce, Williams, Wheeler, Carter, Dunford, Ryan, Ramsey, Harding, Wilde, Bennett, Wort, White.