Gosport backed to shrug off title pressure

Tom Lewis will miss tomorrow's game. Picture: Roger Smith
Tom Lewis will miss tomorrow's game. Picture: Roger Smith
Scott Morris. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Havant chief rues missed opportunity

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Gosport & Fareham coach Scott Ashley is backing his players to rise to the challenge of being marked men in London two south west.

The Gosport Park outfit are currently sitting pretty in top spot after an unbeaten start to the campaign.

Ashley knows setting the pace will bring added pressure to his team.

And he is expecting their sternest test to date when they visit fifth-placed Old Reigatians tomorrow (2.15pm).

‘There are always added pressures when you are at the top,’ said Ashley.

‘Opponents view you as a big scalp to take and make that extra effort to knock you off your pedestal.

‘We have to make sure that we don’t make any slip-ups this early in the season.

‘Most of our squad are the same that earned us promotion two years ago, so they know what it is all about.

‘I am sure they will handle the pressure and show the required strength and resolve to get another win.

‘Old Reigatians are no mugs, though, and it is important we show them the right amount of respect.

‘It won’t be easy up at their place.’

The visitors are without four players for the trip.

Tom Lewis and Sean Shepherd are with the Hampshire under-18s, while the Jones brothers, Gareth and Christian, are unavailable.

A different Gareth Jones moves up into the back-row.

Ashley’s squad had a run out against the Navy under-23 side last Sunday and he believes that will strengthen their cause.

‘We had a game instead of a free weekend and that should help keep our momentum going,’ he said.

Rejuvenated Fareham Heathens are aiming for a fourth successive win in Hampshire two with Lymington Mariners the visitors to Cams Alders.

After finishing second from bottom last season – Heathens have made a dramatic turnaround.

‘A lot more players have become available this season,’ said Fareham spokesman Chris Lee.

‘I think finishing where we did last year provided us with a big kick up the backside.

‘A number of changes have been made at the club – with new coaches Mark Flower and Bernard Rhodes brought in.

‘We are bouncing off the back of some positive results, although the Mariners traditionally have always been tough opponents.

‘Home advantage is always helpful, though.’

Heathens are missing a number of players through injury and half-term commitments but still field a competitive looking fifteen.

Elsewhere in Hampshire two, Locks Heath Pumas are bidding to bounce back from their RFU Vase defeat by Southsea Nomads with a home success against Alresford.

They welcome the second-bottom side to Brookfield School with head coaches Mike Vine and Jim Pearce able to recall captain Tom O’Grady – who has been sidelined with a rib injury he suffered in pre-season.

They have, however, lost number eight Andy Martin to a groin injury and inside centre Joel Stocker remains a doubt with a hamstring injury.

Pearce said: ‘Despite the defeat last weekend in the cup, we were able to give a lot of the second team players a chance to show what they could do.

‘There are a few players who are pushing for first-team honours.

‘It shows the strength in depth that we have at the club and the better we do, the more continuity we will have.’