Poate: Style added to substance

Gosport Borough defender Brett Poate
Gosport Borough defender Brett Poate

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Brett Poate believes Gosport Borough are reaping the rewards of a more attractive style of play ahead of tomorrow’s home showdown with Eastbourne.

The Borough stalwart has been a key part of what is the meanest defence in the Conference South so far this term, with the team having conceded just four goals in their first nine league games.

But that has not been at the expense of attacking flair, with Justin Bennett the division’s leading goalscorer and Poate pointing to the midfield diamond formation as a major reason behind their recent form.

‘It’s all come from the Bromley game a few weeks ago,’ said Poate.

‘We changed the formation and started playing a bit more football.

‘On that Thursday before the game we had a brilliant training session.

‘Everyone was popping the ball about and we were buzzing.

‘I think we all decided that we needed to do that in games a bit more.

‘We took that into the game, the manager changed the formation and you have to play a bit more with that system. You can’t just boot it forward.

‘We won 3-0 but we played so well and we carried that on.

‘We go long when we need to do that but we are playing some good stuff.

‘We were going back to front too quickly at the start of last season.

‘It didn’t give the midfielders a chance to get on the ball. Now we do that a lot more.’

After the club’s slow start to last season, it has been a different tale this time around, with Borough looking upwards rather than finding themselves in relegation trouble.

Poate said: ‘We had a poor start last season and it took us a while to get going.

‘We had the FA Trophy run as well and that hindered us in the league.

‘It was probably about February or March by the time we got going and had that unbeaten run to climb up the table.

‘We’ve had some new players come in for this season but they are players who know this level or higher.

‘We’ve got some experience and some youngsters who have been at professional clubs.

‘We’ve had a good run, we are scoring goals and we are not conceding many.

‘At the moment, the strikers are on fire and the midfielders are now popping up with a few goals as well. But it’s down to us to keep that going.’

Borough are brimming with confidence after a Dan Wooden double eased them into the FA Cup fourth qualfying round after their 3-0 replay win over Maidenhead.

That has earned them a trip to Devon-based Willand Rovers – the lowest ranked team left in the competition next weekend – with a place in the first round proper up for grabs.

But Poate is keen to focus on the league before the FA Cup adventure continues.

He said: ‘We thoroughly deserved the win and we could have won by more.

‘In the first match, we should have been 2-0 or 3-0 up before they equalised.

‘But it was a professional performance and we got the job done.

‘We know we have got a great chance of getting into the first round but now we have to put the FA Cup to the back of our minds for a week.’

New-signing Byron Mason is added Alex Pike’s squad.

GOSPORT (from): Ashmore, Forbes, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Carter, Smith, Wooden, Ramsey, Paterson, Bennett, Mason, Matthews, Harris, Wort, Saez, Woodward, Wilde, Dunford.