Alex Pike has backed his Gosport Borough strikers to prove they can rise to the FA Cup challenge.
Justin Bennett’s 14 goals and Matt Paterson’s haul of 13 means the duo have netted a remarkable 27 between them for Borough this season – making them one of the feared partnerships in Vanarama Conference South.
But it’s an entirely different proposition to carry the same threat against Colchester’s experienced League One defenders on Sunday (2pm).
The Borough boss, however, believes they have enough about them to worry the Essex club who are 18th in League One.
Pike said: ‘A lot of attention will be on Bennett and Paterson – quite rightly so.
‘Whether you like it or not, the game is dominated by strikers.
‘Every kid grows up wanting to score a winning goal in huge game like this one.
‘I think they have got to be the best partnership in our league.
‘They have just hit it off. They have scored 27 goals between them already, which is unbelievable.
‘Paterson has played at their level and above so I don’t think League One defenders will worry him and Bennett is full of confidence at the moment.
‘If I was Colchester, I would certainly be worried about them.’
Pike also revealed it’s a partnership that may never have seen the light of day at Privett Park.
He said: ‘We nearly didn’t sign Matt Paterson.
‘Let’s just say negotiations didn’t start very well and we ended up having a bit of an argument on the phone.
‘But he phoned me back soon afterwards and he has been fantastic ever since. I have been hugely impressed by him as a person and as a player.
‘Justin has been at the club for seven years. Steve Claridge was the only player I’ve ever had that Bennett actually listened to before Paterson. It tells you they are on the same wavelength.’
While Borough’s strikers have taken much of the attention, the defence has also shone this season – even though they will have to cope without the suspended skipper Sam Pearce on Sunday.
Former West Ham striker Freddie Sears has nine goals already this season, while Rhys Healey and Gavin Massey will also pose a serious threat in Colchester’s expected 4-3-3 formation.
Pike said: ‘For me, the key is how we will defend against a League One side.
‘Forwards at their level are sharper, they think quicker and they have that bit more pace off the mark.
‘Against a striker like Freddie Sears, for example, if you switch off for a second, the ball is in the back of your net.
‘It does makes me laugh but people have been telling me that statistically, we have the best defensive record in Europe.
‘But it’s still an option to play five at the back. We’re up against a side that will pose a real threat and we have that option.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH (from): Ashmore, Forbes, Matthews, Poate, Williams, Carter, Smith, Wooden, Ramsey, Bennett, Paterson, Molyneaux, Gerring, Woodward, Saez, Dunford, Wilde, Harris, Wort, Gosney