Pike calls for Gosport to ‘get back to where they belong’

Lee Molyneaux and his fellow Gosport defenders have been praised by boss Alex Pike
Lee Molyneaux and his fellow Gosport defenders have been praised by boss Alex Pike
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Alex Pike has called on Gosport to get back where they belong when they tackle Poole in this afternoon’s play-off final (3pm).

Victory for Borough in Dorset will move them out of Southern League division one south & west and into the premier for the first time for more than 20 years.

Gosport have not played in the seventh tier of English football since 1991 – when the acrimonious departure of then-manager Trevor Williams saw the vast majority of their squad depart, leading to successive relegations.

But on the back of a superb season, which saw them finish third in the table, Borough are now just one win away from a return.

And Pike has rallied his troops to give their all and reward everyone connected with Gosport.

He said: ‘All those at the club are desperate for us to do it.

‘The players have been great all season but we want this for everyone who works so hard at Privett Park – from the secretary and treasurer, to those in the tea hut and who man the turnstiles.

‘I remember the last time Gosport were in the premier division. There were tough times after that but now we have a chance to go back.

‘This is a great club and we should be playing at that level again.

‘When the new chairman came in, we wanted to be in the Blue Square Bet South in five years and the Southern premier in three. That was three years ago – so I’m keen to keep my word.’

Pike concedes his men will be underdogs going into today’s game against a Poole side who finished one point above them in the league.

The Dolphins also beat Gosport 3-0 in the league fixture in January.

But the man who led Wimborne to FA Vase glory at Wembley in 1992, feels he has a game plan to inspire success.

Pike added: ‘The best two teams are in the play-off final and now it’s up to us to prove we deserve it.

‘We are the underdogs and face an uphill task. But they finished just a single point above us.

‘We’re a very good side. Maybe we don’t get the respect we deserve with the budget we work within. We’ll go there with a game plan, though, and we’ll adhere to it.’

Pike has a fully-fit squad to choose from, which means 41-goal striker Justin Bennett will once again lead the line, with former Pompey forward and manager Steve Claridge also pushing for a start.

Despite his abundance of attacking options, though, the Borough boss was quick to hail the work of his defence this season.

Pike said: ‘It’s great to have a jack in the box like Justin, while Steve – with all his experience of play-offs at the highest level – brings serenity to the changing room. It’s not just about the lads up top, though.

‘My teams are always built around a rock-solid defence and the likes of Lee Molyneaux, Brett Poate, Aaron Cook and Gavin Jones – in front of Nathan Ashmore – deserve an enormous amount of credit.

‘I can pick only 16 players from a strong squad of 22 for today’s game, which means six are going to have to watch from the stands.

‘But whoever that is will still cheer us on because that’s the type of family we are at Gosport.

‘We need to give it everything we’ve got and reward everyone at the club.’