ALEX Pike is a two-legged semi-final away from a magical return to Wembley.
Just 180 minutes of football will dictate if Pike, who famously led Wimborne Town to FA Vase triumph beneath the old Twin Towers in 1992, will be heading back to north London’s hallowed turf in the final of the FA Trophy.
On paper his Gosport Borough side – second-to-bottom of the Skrill Conference South – faced one the toughest quarter-finals on Saturday away to Conference North leaders North Ferriby United.
But, remarkably, the Privett Park outfit, captained by ex-Eastleigh lion-heart Jamie Brown, were two up inside half an hour and dug deep to come away from Humberside 2-1 victors.
Sammy Igoe struck first on nine minutes. North Ferriby failed to cut out Mike Gosney’s low cross, allowing the former Portsmouth midfielder to slot the ball through ’keeper Adam Nicklin’s legs.
With 30 minutes gone Borough doubled their advantage when Brown’s shot fell to another of Gosport’s ex-Football League players Tim Sills. Ignoring offside appeals, the one-time Oxford United, Hereford and Torquay striker kept his cool to find the keeper’s left-hand corner from ten yards.
North Ferriby pulled a goal back straight after the break when Dean Lisles latched onto Jamie Yates’ free-kick and found the top corner.
But Gosport tigerishly kept the home side at bay and might have two more goals themselves through Dan Wooden and Igoe.
“It was backs to wall for about ten to 15 minutes in the second half, but then we had two glorious chances in the last 15 minutes,” said Pike.
“Dan Wooden might have scored after great play by Gosney and then Sammy Igoe’s danced through the defence and put the ball one side of the keeper and just the wrong side of goal.
“We always knew it would be a difficult task coming up here. You’ve only got to look at the bookmakers’ odds. We were 33-1 and they were 15-2.
“I’ve been a non-League manager for 30 years and for me the game’s always been about the players and that special relationship with the fans.
“To hear all the Wembley chants today brought back memories for me of 1992 when I was at Wimborne.”
Definitely joining Gosport in the semis are Eastleigh’s conquerors Cambridge United and Grimsby Town who tonked Tamworth 4-1.
The all-Hampshire quarter-final between Havant & Waterlooville and Aldershot Town was postponed due to a waterlogged Westleigh Park pitch and has been rearranged for tomorrow (7.45pm).
Pike said: “I’ll be rooting for Havant against Aldershot.
“Even though we’re rivals, we’ve got massive respect for Havant and for (manager) Lee Bradbury. It would make a great final to have two local clubs at Wembley.”
Gosport tomorrow switch their attentions back to the SCS survival fight at home to Paul Doswell’s Sutton United.
Gosport and Havant & Waterlooville have been kept apart in the Hampshire FA Senior Cup semi-final draw.
Pike’s Borough host SCS rivals Basingstoke Town, while the Hawks have home advantage against Graham Rix’s Sydenhams Wessex outfit AFC Portchester.
The ties are due to be played in the week beginning March 3.