Former Pompey striker’s fresh start

Ashley Harris, centre, celebrates after scoring for Pompey against Crawley in 2012. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122969-725)
Ashley Harris, centre, celebrates after scoring for Pompey against Crawley in 2012. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122969-725)

Ashley Harris is determined to move on from his Pompey pain as he bids to get his career back on track with Gosport Borough.

The former Blues forward was released by Andy Awford in the summer after falling way down the pecking order at Fratton Park.

Trial spells at Colchester, Aldershot and the Hawks failed to secure his footballing future, until non-league Borough stepped in last week to offer him a contract until the end of the season.

The 20-year-old admits his confidence was knocked in his final season at Pompey.

But he is now keen to focus on the future with the Vanarama Conference South outfit as he aims to return to the professional ranks.

Harris, who was an unused substitute in Gosport’s FA Cup replay win against Maidenhead last night, said: ‘It was pretty tough to leave Pompey but that’s football. They just told me they didn’t want to keep me on any more.

‘Players get released from all sorts of clubs. It’s all about opinions.

‘Last season they didn’t see me getting into the squad and then I was a bit removed from the situation.

‘When they put you out on loan, you feel like you are not wanted and I think my head went a bit.

‘My confidence was knocked but hopefully I can get that back now.

‘There are always highs and lows in football and it’s about how you take it. You can’t just sulk.’

The Purbrook-based youngster burst on to the scene during a dark time at Fratton Park.

His emergence was a welcome, positive story for fans when he was promoted from the Academy by former boss Michael Appleton.

But his opportunities then became more limited.

After making just one substitute appearance last term – in the New Year’s Day defeat at Southend – Harris is now determined to make the most of his fresh start.

He said: ‘Michael Appleton played me quite a lot, then Guy Whittingham came in and didn’t play me that much and it was the same with Awfs.

‘Now I just want to play some football again and do my best for Gosport.

‘I’d love to get back into the Football League but I have to prove I can go there.’

Harris is doing some part-time work with a local scaffolding business while he plots a route back into the professional ranks.

And he revealed he’s had plenty of good-luck messages from Blues fans after his switch to Privett Park.

‘I’ve had a lot of messages from Pompey fans wishing me well,’ said Harris.

‘They were always brilliant to me and, even though I got released, they still want me prove a few people wrong.’

Blues boss Awford added: ‘It killed me having to release Ashley but I felt it was best for the club and for him.

‘I’m delighted he has fixed himself up at Gosport. It’s a good club at a good level.

‘Nothing would please me more than to see him back in the professional game in the future.’