CHRISTCHURCH boss Graham Kemp admitted he had an element of sympathy with Gosport Borough following their expulsion from the Russell-Cotes Cup.

The Southern League outfit were removed from the competition after pleading guilty to fielding an ineligible player against Priory in a quarter-final tie last month.

Goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore lined up in Gosport’s 5-2 win at Privett Park despite not having been registered in time. Boro were also fined £50 by the Hampshire FA.

It was the second time this season Christchurch had earned a reprieve with Gosport having been kicked out of the Hampshire Senior Cup for fielding a loan player against Priory in December.

Wessex Premier Christchurch will now meet Hampshire Premier League leaders Liphook United in the semi-final at Hurn Bridge on Tuesday, February 28.

Kemp said: “It is not a nice way to go through but the rules are there for a reason. Gosport made a mistake and owned up. There is sympathy all-round for their management, players and fans.

“We are pleased to be in the semi-final, even if the circumstances are unfortunate for Gosport. The Russell-Cotes Cup is everybody’s last priority until you get to March and find yourself in the final. Hopefully, we can make the most of this and go all the way.”

Christchurch have a second semi-final date just a week later when they meet Downton in the last four of the Wessex Cup at Hamworthy’s County Ground.

New signing Martin Harris from Blackfield & Langley is in line to make his Priory debut when Kemp’s men visit Wessex Premier strugglers Hayling United tomorrow (3pm).

Priory: (from) Prodomo, Costello, Thompson, Legg, Taylor, Crutchley, Brian, Smith, Burden, Burt, Osborne, Fairbrother, Griffin, Dand, Harris, Lovell.

• Midfielders Aaron Stacey and Will Robinson are both expected to face late fitness tests ahead of Hamworthy United’s County Ground clash with Brading Town (3pm). Hammers are set to welcome back Sam Lockyer and Carl Yelland, while Stuart Cannie and Dan could also be available.

Hammers: (from) Evans, Wyatt, Horlock, White, Haysom, Lanahan, Stacey, Robinson, Whitcher, Chudy, Burbidge, Byrom, Wakefield, Lockyer, Yelland, Pidgley, Cannie, Voysey.

Verwood boss Adie Arnold is down to the bare bones for their trip to Tadley Calleva (3pm). The Wessex One leaders are without suspended Dean Evans, injured Luke Homer and unavailable duo Matt Delaney and John Webb.

Ringwood will be bidding for a fourth successive win when they travel to East Cowes Vics (3pm).

Potters: (from) Lynch, Gajic, Dear, Haskell, Kelly, Satterley, Sheppard, Smalley, Barnett, Elysee, Smith, Wilson, Dyer, Anderson.

Ringwood: (from) Cousins, Daley, Osman, Tyler, Pierson, S Hole, W Hole, Yeats, Man-ning, Elizi, Edwards, Brown, Eley, Morrell.