Gosport Borough keeper Nathan Ashmore has this evening joined Ebbsfleet United for an undisclosed fee, which Alex Pike has described as “substantial”.
Ashmore’s five year stay at Borough has this evening come to an end as he joins Darryl McMahon’s National League South leaders.
Alex Pike revealed that Ebbsfleet had revealed their interest in the highly rated keeper a little while ago and that once Ashmore was made aware of this, he made it clear he would like to take the opportunity of full time football that the move to Stonebridge Road offers.
“Once Nathan heard of Ebbsfleet’s interest in him, he made it clear to me he would like to go there and advance his career,” the Gosport manager explained.
“When I knew that, as manager, I had to get the best deal I could for Gosport Borough Football Club,” he added.
Negotiations were concluded earlier this evening and the popular 26 year old has been saying his goodbyes before making the move to Kent.
Pike is also well aware that fans will perceive this as “cashing in” on one of the club’s biggest assets – an allegation he vehemently denies.
“I’ve always said that I’m happy for players to use Gosport Borough as a stepping stone to the professional game. That’s what Nathan’s done and we all know he is good enough to play in the Football League” he said.
“I expect Ebbsfleet to be promoted into the National League and beyond and it’s conceivable that he will be playing with them in the Football league in a year or two.
“They’ve shown interest in him for a while and he’s decided to make the move. I know our supporters will see this as us cashing in, but that’s simply not the case,” he insisted.
“Nathan has always said he would only leave the club to go to a professional full time club when the opportunity arises and that time has come,” he concluded.
Ashmore made his final appearance for the club at Bath last night in the Boro’s 1-0 win at Twerton Park – a game in which he performed superbly giving one of his all-time best displays. Twenty-four hours later he was saying farewell.
Pike is now well aware he now needs to find a replacement goalkeeper quickly ahead of Gosport’s weekend fixture – ironically at Ebbsfleet.
Despite the club still being under a transfer embargo, the Boro’ boss revealed he can use special dispensation to sign a new keeper and has “irons in the fire”. Pike expects to bring in Ashmore’s successor “tomorrow [Thursday] or Friday.”
Pike then moved on to pay tribute to the departing Ashmore.
“He’s been a pleasure to manage, a fantastic servant to the club. He’s quite the character and I wish him well,” he said.
The timing of the move has also thrown up an interesting sub-plot. Gosport make the trip to Stonebridge Road on Saturday and Ashmore is available for selection against his former team mates should his new manager, Darryl McMahon, decide to pick him.
But Pike feels Ashmore won’t want to face the players he shared good times and friendships with so soon.
“Knowing Nathan as I do, he won’t want to play against us,” he said. “He’d find it uncomfortable and very hard to do that but what will be, will be”.