Shaun Gale hoping Gosport Borough can attract Pompey fans for ‘the best cup competition in the world’
Shaun Gale is calling on south coast football fans to come and back Gosport Borough’s bid to become one of this season’s non-league FA Cup heroes.
Borough lie second in the embryonic Southern League Premier South table with four wins in five matches.
But they take a break from league action this weekend to welcome one tier lower Plymouth Parkway to Privett Park in an FA Cup first qualifying round tie.
With Pompey inactive and Hawks away at Ebbsfleet, Gale would love to see extra fans through the turnstiles for what he calls ‘the best cup competition in the world.’
The Borough boss knows full well the impact of a good cup run - he was Hawks manager when they famously reached the fourth round proper in 2007/08, a fairytale run that ended at Liverpool.
He also knows what it feels like to be on the wrong end of a cup upset, losing to lower division Chippenham during his time at Hawks.
‘The FA Cup is always full of shocks and we have to make sure we’re not one of them,’ said Gale ahead of facing a Parkway side who have belted 10 goals in winning their last two Southern League Division 1 South games.
‘We have done our homework on them, we have two reports - they are probably the favourites to get out of their league this season.
‘They’re a good side and they’ve started well - but we’re a good side and we’ve started well too. And I still don’t believe we have played as well as we can.
‘We need to do what we have been doing all season - working hard and making life difficult for the opposition.
‘This is the best cup competition in the world, it’s magical, and for a club like Gosport we would love to reach the first round. That’s what we have to aim for.
‘You do need a bit of luck - we had that at Havant, we rode our luck, we were losing at home to a non-league team at one stage before beating Swansea who were top of their table (today’s League 1) with Roberto Martinez in charge.’
Hawks were 1-0 down in the third qualifying round at home to Fleet Town in October 2007, before hitting back to win 2-1. Three months later, they found themselves at Anfield.
Centre half Josh Huggins (muscle strain) and Joe Lea (bruising) missed the bank holiday Monday win at Hartley Wintney - Borough’s third league success in a row without conceding.
Gale is hopeful they will be available for selection against Parkway, but added: ‘If they’re not fit they won’t play. I need 11 fit players, not 10 and a half.
‘We had a young team out on Monday - the only experienced players were Matt Briggs, Dan Wooden and Theo Lewis. At the start of the season I was hoping to have six or seven experienced players in my starting XI at least.’
Pat Suraci has made a big impact off the bench in each of Borough’s last three victories - scoring the winner at Weston, setting up Lea’s second against Chesham, and providing the cross for Lewis’ winner at Hartley Wintney.
‘Pat’s been unlucky,’ said Gale. ‘His attitude has been fantastic and he’s given me food for thought. It could be time to put him back in - we’ll have a look at that.’
The 496 crowd for last Saturday’s win against Chesham was Gosport’s highest for a league game at Privett Park since April 2019. A larger attendance is almost guaranteed against Parkway.
Gale added: ‘This is easily the biggest game in the area on Saturday. It would be lovely to see a few people from Portsmouth come over.
‘There was a good atmosphere last weekend and we’ll need that again - we’ll need the crowd to be our 12th man.
‘The club did a lot for the community (during the pandemic) with the ‘Feed a Family in Need’ scheme and I think a lot of people are getting behind us because of that. More and more people are getting interested.’