Pike: Massive challenge is one for Gosport to relish

Dan Wooden
Dan Wooden
Hawks striker Jason Prior celebrates hitting the target for the first time since November. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (181103-1)

Bradbury: My Hawks won’t be bullied

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Alex Pike is relishing what is looking increasingly like a long, hard relegation battle for Gosport Borough.

The Borough boss saw his side hit rock bottom in Skrill South after a 2-1 defeat at Ebbsfleet United.

Defensive errors cost his side once again.

Gosport have picked up just one point from a possible 18 on the road this season.

Their cause was not helped by conceding a sloppy early goal.

Then Gareth Barfoot’s handling error gifted all three points to Ebbsfleet after Sam Pearce had volleyed home a spectacular equaliser before half-time.

Barfoot made amends to a certain extent with a fine penalty save later on.

But it underlined Borough’s current run of luck when Dan Wooden’s last-gasp effort grazed the upright, rather than nestling in the bottom corner deep in stoppage time.

Pike bemoaned the mistakes that hurt his men.

But he is eager to face the challenge of keeping Borough in the division this season.

Pike said: ‘People might think I’m mad but as a manager, I come alive and I get excited about this position.

‘It means I’ve got to work hard, it means I’ve got to lift the players that I’ve got and it means I’ve got to scout around and bring in another couple of players to strengthen us.

‘It’s a massive challenge but myself and the players are up for it.

‘You can’t legislate for those mistakes that cost us.

‘We keep making them and every time we get crucified for it.

‘We are rock bottom now but throughout my career I have proved that I am up for the fight. That hasn’t changed.’

With new striker Tim Sills left on the bench because of an ankle injury and Nathan Ashmore ruled out with a tooth abscess, Borough were undone inside three minutes.

Ellis Martin and Brett Poate failed to deal with a straightforward ball over the top.

Although Barfoot did well to block the initial shot, Stacy Long was left all alone on the edge of the box to clip home into the unguarded net.

Borough dragged themselves back into the contest, playing some sharp football and causing problems for their opponents.

First Wooden had a goal ruled out for a tight offside decision.

Pearce then lashed home an unstoppable volley after a corner was only half-cleared.

In a second period, Ben May struck what proved to be the winner eight minutes after the restart.

Barfoot flapped at a deep cross from the right flank and presented the striker with the easy task of slotting home from close range.

Pike said: ‘For the first goal, the goalkeeper saved it and then their midfield player was in acres of space on the edge of the box in the second minute of the game.

‘Why wasn’t he picked up?

‘For the second goal, the goalkeeper has put his hands up to that one.

‘Unfortunately, these things happen.

‘But our heads didn’t drop, we battled and right at the death I thought we had got the equaliser but it was dragged fractionally wide.

‘That’s the way things are going for us at the moment.’

GOSPORT: Barfoot, Forbes (Bennett 74), Poate, Pearce, Martin, Igoe (Barton 78), Smith, Brown, Dunford, Wooden, Williams. Unused subs: Sills, King.