Pike looking for courage from Gosport at ‘hostile’ Whitehawk

Rory Williams
Rory Williams
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Alex Pike has thrown down the gauntlet to his Gosport Borough players to show their mettle in their Whitehawk test.

The Sussex club have become something of a bogey side to Borough in recent times and Pike has made no secret of the fact that it is a venue he would rather avoid.

Pike’s side are two wins away from emulating last season’s run to the first round proper of the FA Cup.

But the draw has not been kind this time around, as they take on a side sitting just above them in third place in the National League South.

But the Borough boss believes his players find an extra level of performance when they are written off.

Pike said: ‘My players thrive when they are the underdogs and the odds are stacked against them.

‘It’s a hostile place to go and we’ve got to stand up to that.

‘But it’s nothing new. We know about it and we know what’s coming.

‘If you want to progress in this competition, we’ve got to go to a place like Whitehawk and not get beaten.

‘It’s not one of the most glamorous places in the league to visit but it is what it is.

‘We can’t afford to go there with any negative thoughts. But unfortunately, we’ve played Whitehawk five times and we haven’t beaten them yet.

‘We’ve had two draws and three losses so it shows the enormity of the task but maybe we are due one.

‘We worked on a few things in training and had a practice game against the development squad and set them up how we think Whitehawk will play.

‘We worked on a few patterns and we will see where that takes us.’

Considering Whitehawk have invested heavily in their playing staff with a number of ex-professionals in their ranks, the Enclosed Ground’s facilities have attracted criticism from plenty of other clubs in the division.

Pike said: ‘I think that’s the way Whitehawk like it.

‘They have got some ex-Football League players and some real quality in their team.

‘I do have a problem with clubs that invest in their playing staff and don’t invest in their facilities but every club is different in how they choose to conduct their business.’

Pike, meanwhile, has yet to decide on his next step in his pursuit of Hawks striker Matt Paterson.

Borough are keen to bring him back to Privett Park after his departure in the summer but their £7,500 bid was rejected by their rivals.

Pike admits there is scope for an improved offer but is also pursuing other targets as he bids to ease the goalscoring burden on Justin Bennett.

With Lee Wort and Jamie White both struggling for goals, Rory Williams was shifted up front last week in the 0-0 draw at Hayes & Yeading – a position he played three seasons ago before reverting to left-back.

Pike said: ‘It’s an option to push Rory up there but we have looked quite solid defensively and I don’t want to disrupt that.’

GOSPORT BOROUGH: (from) Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Bryce, Woodford, Poate, Williams, Carter, Barker, Dunford, Wilde, Wooden, Ramsey, Wort, Bennett, White, Wheeler