Alex Pike has set out Gosport Borough’s ambitions for the new Vanarama National League South campaign: We’re looking to win the title.
The Borough boss saw his side come up narrowly short of a play-off place last season and is certain he has a stronger squad at his disposal this time.
Former Torquay midfielder, Ben Harding, is perhaps his biggest signing of the summer but there are seven new faces in his 20-man squad for tomorrow’s opener against St Albans City at Privett Park (3pm).
Centre-back Nathan Walker became the latest arrival earlier this week after joining from Dorchester.
Pike is also hot on the trail of another recruit with Football League experience and hopes to have him in the ranks in time for the weekend.
Although the club have lost striker Matt Paterson to Hawks, Pike is convinced the club is ready to mount a sustained challenge.
He said: ‘I think we are stronger and that always has to be the aim.
‘It’s about getting the squad stronger than it was last season.
‘This is definitely a stronger squad – it’s the strongest squad that Gosport has ever had.
‘We’ve got a lot more quality in depth now, and four very good players will be sitting in the stands this weekend.
‘I look at my squad now and I’m really happy. The chairman has given me the tools to do the job.
‘The problem I had last season was that we didn’t score enough goals from midfield and I think we have fixed that now.
‘We also didn’t have the strength in depth so when we had injuries, I had to put square pegs in round holes.
‘Now I have competition all over the park and that pushes up the standards for everyone.
‘So I’m not looking to go one better than last season – I’m looking to go five better.
‘I am looking to win the league. That has always been my ambition as a manager, whatever league I go into.
‘If I don’t win it, then I will try to win the play-offs.’
While Pike has been pleased with the progresss in pre-season, it has come at a cost with skipper Sam Pearce sidelined with a knee problem.
That will see the centre-back ruled out for up to two months, while another central defender remains unavailable.
Pike said: ‘It’s a big blow to lose him. He did it against either Pompey or Luton.
‘We’re not sure how long he will be out at the moment but it could be for up to eight weeks.
‘We are also without Adam Brice, who arrived from Farnborough.
‘Farnborough believe they are entitled to a fee for him but we are waiting for them to arrange a tribunal. In the meantime, I can’t use him, which is frustrating.’
Pike added: ‘I’m pleased with the way things have gone in pre-season.
‘There are some tough decisions to be made on team selection.
‘It’s the start of a long season but we are ready to go.’
GOSPORT: (from) Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Woodward, Walker, Woodford, Poate, Williams, Scott, Ryan, Ramsey, Robinson, Carter, Harding, Dunford, Wooden, Wilde, Wort, White, Bennett, Stephens.