Salisbury hitman remembers dream Pompey trial

JUSTIN BENNETT targeted getting on the score sheet against the club he could have joined.

Tuesday, 19th July 2016, 7:30 am
Former Gosport Borough striker Justin Bennett Picture: Keith Fuller

Bennett is expected to lead the line for Salisbury against Pompey in the latest warm-up for Paul Cook’s side tonight.

The 34-year-old brought a long association with Gosport to a close with a move to the Raymond McEnhill Stadium in May.

Now he is hoping to make his mark with Steve Claridge’s men after they romped to the Sydenhams Wessex League premier title.

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But Bennett also made an impact with the teams he’s facing tonight as a youngster.

The hitman spent a week on trial at Pompey in 2003 under Harry Redknapp while with Andover.

He got to work with the likes of Paul Merson, Tim Sherwood, Steve Stone and Co before returning to his non-league club.

Bennett feels, in different circumstances, it could have led to a dream opportunity.

But now he’s looking to improve a decent goal tally against the Blues.

He said: ‘I had a trial at Pompey as a youngster. It was an enjoyable week and I look back on it fondly.

‘Harry Redknapp was in charge with Jim Smith and I was a young lad invited down from Andover for the week.

‘I didn’t know what to expect until I turned up and all these players I watched on Match of the Day were there!

‘Perhaps more would have come of it if my manager at Andover had let me go back.

‘It never came about and then they made it to the Premier League.

‘Hislop, Merson, Lee Bradbury was there along with Sherwood and Steve Stone. I was in awe!’

‘I don’t think I’ve ever beaten Pompey but I’ve scored a couple of goals against them over the years.

‘I’ve done okay personally against some strong teams over the years.

‘I managed to score last season and that’s what I’ll be looking to do again.’

Working under his former Gosport team-mate Claridge is proving a different experience after his long association with Borough.

He explained Claridge is leading by example as a boss.

Bennett said: ‘It’s good and we obviously know each other form Gosport.

‘He’s a totally different beast as a manager. ‘He’s very meticulous..

‘He’s doing all the running and still up the front!

‘Instead of barking orders he’s leading by example.

‘You can’t hide and it makes you put it in. He’s keeping us on our toes!’