Gosport relishing visit of strong Pompey side

Hat-trick hero Matt Ritchie in action for Pompey against Gosport in 2008 Picture: Malcolm Wells
Hat-trick hero Matt Ritchie in action for Pompey against Gosport in 2008 Picture: Malcolm Wells

Gosport Borough are preparing to welcome the strongest Pompey team to Privett Park for seven years.

Although Paul Cook’s squad have already had a sneak preview after training at the Conference South club’s ground.

There were 30 players taking part so I imagine Pompey will split the squad for the two matches. With their Academy playing Dorchester the same day, we know they will be bringing first-team players down

Mark Hook

Borough are anticipating a sizeable crowd when the Blues visit on Saturday (3pm).

With Cook’s men also playing at Bognor the previous night, Pompey are expected to split their first-team in half to accommodate both fixtures.

It represents great news for Borough, who have entertained their neighbours just three times since August 2008.

On that occasion, Harry Redknapp brought down a side containing the likes of John Utaka, Jamie Ashdown, Djimi Traore, Martin Cranie and Arnold Mvuemba.

Yet a certain Academy product called Matt Ritchie stole the show with a hat-trick in the 4-1 victory for the FA Cup winners.

Since then, Gosport have hosted nothing but Pompey XIs and effectively Academy line-ups.

Now chairman Mark Hook is relishing the chance to see a few more first-teamers on show.

He said: ‘Pompey haven’t visited us that often so we are delighted to be welcoming them on Saturday.

‘It will be great for Pompey fans in Gosport to come and see their team in action before the start of the season and, being a Pompey fan myself, I’m also looking forward to it.

‘For me Paul Cook has been the club’s best signing, he is a tremendous manager with a good pedigree and has the capability to take them out of League Two.

‘I’m not putting the pressure on but there is renewed optimism and a lot of hope – no different to us at Gosport.

‘They trained at our ground on Tuesday morning and I went down to watch.

‘There has been work on our pitch during the pre-season and not even our team have trained there!

‘There were 30 players taking part so I imagine Pompey will split the squad for the two matches.

‘With their Academy playing Dorchester the same day, we know they will be bringing first-team players down, which we really appreciate.

‘From what I saw of training, Paul Cook was very vociferous, trying to get the best out of his players and working them hard.

‘They are more than welcome to use our facilities and I am sure he will get them ready for the start of the season next month.’

Tickets are priced at £13 for adults, £9 for concessions and £5 for under-18s, which is the usual cost of admission at Privett Park.

In addition, supporters have been offered the chance to buy a special ticket which entitles them to entry for the visits of Pompey, Luton (July 20) and Weymouth (August 1).

This is priced at £30 for adults, £20 concessions and £10 under-18s.

Hook added: ‘The ticket is a special thank you to all our loyal supporters.’