Defeat unthinkable for Hawks in crunch clash

James Haran   Picture: Sarah Standing

James Haran Picture: Sarah Standing

Alfie Rutherford in action for the Hawks against Petersfield in the Portsmouth Senior Cup Final. Picture: Sarah Standing

Hawks thrash Petersfield to win Portsmouth Senior Cup

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Lee Bradbury expects the Hawks to put their bodies on the line in their crucial National League South relegation battle at St Albans City tomorrow (3pm).

A midweek draw at Hemel Hempstead allowed St Albans to leapfrog the Hawks on goal difference.

That result put Bradbury’s team back into the bottom three with just four games left to play.

With so much at stake for both teams the contest at Clarence Park is likely to be a tense, nervy affair.

‘This is a huge game for us and a big test of character,’ said Bradbury.

‘It is a time for putting bodies on the line and it won’t be for the faint-hearted.

‘We want to go there and win the game but at the same time it is important we don’t lose.

‘With a game in hand on St Albans we have a slight advantage.

‘Finding ourselves back in the bottom three is disappointing but a win will give us a massive boost.

‘At the moment our destiny still remains in our own hands and it is vital we keep it that way.’

Bradbury knows his team will have to show a drastic improvement away from home where they have won only once all season.

In their last trip to Wealdstone they surrendered a two-goal lead in the last 20 minutes to lose the game.

The manager insists they must put that experience behind them and not let it dent their confidence.

‘Hopefully we have learned from that and must not let it dictate our future,’ said Bradbury.

‘I am hoping if we get ourselves into that situation again the outcome will be different.’

The visitors are boosted by the fact Dan Strugnell and James Haran have recovered from injury.

Both played a leading part in the Hawks’ Hampshire Senior Cup triumph over Winchester City.

Strugnell grabbed the late equaliser that took the tie to penalties and Haran was named man of the match.

Their strength and mobility can prove useful against St Albans who possess a couple of strong experienced strikers.

Captain Brian Stock and full-back Harry Medway return to the squad after being rested in midweek.

For Stock it is his final game before he starts a two-match ban for picking up 10 yellow cards this season.

Bradbury is backing his players to handle the pressure.

‘We have a number of experienced players who have played in similar games before,’ said Bradbury.

‘It is a game for strong-minded players.

‘They have to go out there and play as if it was their final game of football.

‘In our situation we have to throw everything at it – nothing less will do.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Hill, Robinson, Haran, Medway, Stock, Donnelly, Swallow, Barker, Paterson, Hayter, Mullings, Ciardini, Mitchell, Lewis, Molyneux, Cummings

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