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Football: Poole's promotion bid backed by Bashley boss Gazzard
POOLE Town’s pursuit of consecutive promotions has been endorsed by the least likely of sources ahead of tomorrow’s derby with Bashley – rival manager Paul Gazzard.
Tom Killick’s men sit fifth in the Southern League Premier Division, trailing leaders Hemel Hempstead by 16 points but have up to six games in hand on their fellow promotion contenders.
In stark contrast, Bash – who Gazzard once skippered to the Southern South & West title and Premier Division play-offs in consecutive seasons – have won just one league match so far and sit some 15 points from safety at the foot of the division.
The match represents a complete role reversal from the last league meeting between the teams in 1996 when Poole plundered their only point of the season on their way through the relegation trapdoor.
However, despite his desperate desire to take some spoils back to the New Forest, Gazzard acknowledged Poole’s presence as a “genuine promotion contender” and backed Killick’s boys to follow Gosport Borough in sailing straight up to the Conference South.
Gazzard told the Daily Echo: “Sometimes it can be easier for sides with momentum to win back-to-back promotions at this level rather than trying year after year and their squad has the depth you need.
“I think they will definitely be in the play-offs but whether or not they make it from there is a lottery for anyone.
“It could be a question of who they have available at the time but they are certainly capable of doing the same as Gosport because they have that same winning mentality.
“The thing with Poole is they never say never and always have that belief that they will get something out of every game.
“Personally, I think the title will go to Chesham because they look the most complete side we have faced this season.
“But Poole are a good, all-round side. They know when to play and when to dig in and hit the channels, which is similar to Gosport’s approach in many ways.”
On the mammoth task facing his under-fire charges at Tatnam, Gazzard added: “Without being negative, a point would be a great result.
“Some people might look at it and think ‘It’s only Bashley, they’ve won one game all season’ but Poole won’t think like that. Tommy will have them up for it and they will benefit from having a bit of a break at the weekend.
“We might be bottom but we are still competitive and while it doesn’t get much tougher than Poole away, I don’t see the result as a foregone conclusion.”
Dolphins: (from) Buchel, Emmerson, Spetch, Martin, Whisken, Pettefer, Davies, Elliott, Devlin, Brooks, Preston, Charles, Cann, Byerley, Dibba, Lowes.
Bash: (from) George, Roberts, Brookes, Flint, Strickland, Gazzard, Colson, Morris, Blackmore, Satterley, Joyce, Odam, Soetan, Marden.
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