Bradbury rues missed chance on road

James Hayter
James Hayter
The Hawks suffered FA Trophy semi-final heartbreak against Gosport Borough in 2014. Picture: Paul Jacobs

Bradbury: Hawks stronger than when we reached FA Trophy semi-final

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Hawks boss Lee Bradbury admitted his side should have closed the game out at Eastbourne Borough – rather than relying on a stoppage-time Josh Hill goal to save their skins.

The Westleigh Park side drew 2-2 at Priory Lane yesterday, despite James Hayter handing them a 1-0 interval lead.

The hosts drew level midway through the second half, before taking the lead deep into injury-time.

A surprise defeat looked on the cards for the visitors until Hill’s last-gasp intervention.

But Bradbury, who sees his side slip to 17th in the National League South table, believes it should never have got to that stage.

‘To be honest, we feel a little hard done by because it wouldn’t have been an injustice if we had won it,’ said the manager.

‘We showed a bit of naivety in failing to close the game out having got into a winning position.

‘In the end we had to show our character to come back after falling behind in stoppage-time.

‘But we should never have allowed ourselves to get in that position.

‘We conceded two poor goals.

‘I have come away with a bittersweet feeling but will accept it was a good battling point away from home.’

Bradbury, surprisingly, rang the changes to his side, dropping Scott Donnelly, George Barker and Ben Swallow to the substitutes’ bench.

James Haran, Nic Ciardini and Aaron Mitchell were recalled to the starting XI, with Theo Lewis also replacing the injured Brian Stock.

The first half was dominated by the gale-force wind blowing straight down the pitch, with the Hawks starting against the elements.

And with the home side overhitting everything in the wind, the visitors took advantage to take a 30th-minute lead.

Matt Paterson and Mitchell combined well to win a corner, which was quickly taken by Ciardini.

Mitchell then played the ball back to Ciardini and his shot was deflected past the goalkeeper by Hayter – taking his goal tally to four in the past three games.

Borough looked more threatening as the interval approached and Hawks keeper Ryan Young twice came to his side’s rescue.

On 43 minutes he pulled off a good reflex save, before doing well to turn a Nathaniel Pinney shot round the post on the stroke of half-time.

Eastbourne hit back to level the scores on 71 minutes, when a speculative shot from Craig Stone flew into the top corner.

It then looked as if the visitors had thrown it away when the hosts took the lead a minute into stoppage-time through Craig McCallum.

From the restart, however, a foul on Dan Strugnell offered the Hawks one final chance which they took with both hands.

Swallow curled the free-kick into the area for Hill to head in and earn the Hawks a deserved point away from home.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Medway, Lewis, Hill, Haran, Ciardini, Robinson, Paterson, Hayter, Mitchell. Subs: Molyneaux, Donnelly, Barker, Swallow, Mullings

n Gosport Borough’s home game with Basingstoke was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

Petersfield’s trip to Godalming in Southern League central division one was also postponed because of the weather.