Gale backs Hawks to be real deal on artificial pitch

Theo Lewis, left, is set to miss the Hawks trip to Hendon  Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Theo Lewis, left, is set to miss the Hawks trip to Hendon Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170972-31)

Bradbury hails his steely Hawks

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Shaun Gale is backing the Hawks to come up trumps in their first 3G test of the season at Hendon in the Ryman League premier division tomorrow (3pm).

Hendon are one of four teams in the league who play on an artificial pitch.

The Hawks’ record playing on 3G pitches is not great losing both games played on the surface last season.

They suffered a 1-0 defeat at Maidstone and were well beaten 3-0 at Sutton United.

Gale believes the Hawks are ready to show their quality whatever the surface.

He said: ‘I don’t think it was just the surface to blame for our two losses last season.

‘We have to go there and put the pitch out of our mind.

‘Our priority is to win a football match and do whatever it takes to achieve that.

‘3G pitches do play differently and we have to adapt to it.

‘We train on the surface every week so it is not totally new to our players.

‘The ball tends to hold up particularly when it is dry.

‘Players need to be aware of how to deal with the bounce of the ball in certain areas.

‘The pitch at Hendon is quite heavily rubberised and that tends to slow the game down.

‘It can be frustrating when you are trying to play a high-tempo game.

‘We would welcome a bit of rain which would make the surface that little bit slicker.’

The visitors still expect to be without midfielder Theo Lewis who has been missing with a hamstring problem.

Lewis has made good progress but Hendon might be just that bit too early for him to return.

Luckily, the Hawks have Andreas Robinson who has come in and done a good job in his absence.

The Hawks also face some difficult decisions deciding who starts up front.

Young Alfie Rutherford came in against Cirencester Town in the FA Trophy and scored a well-taken goal.

Whenever he has come in this season, Rutherford has more often than not scored.

Regular starters Jason Prior and Matt Paterson have also done well giving the Hawks a welcome selection headache.

‘It is the sort of problem you don’t mind having,’ said Gale.

‘It keeps everyone on their toes when players don’t have a guaranteed place.’

Gale is keen for the Hawks to get back to winning ways having gone two games without a win.

Despite Hendon’s lowly position Gale expects a tough test.

He added: ‘They have some good players, though things haven’t happened for them yet.

‘We have to go with our game plan and do a professional job.

‘The other thing we need to be is ruthless in the final third.

‘In our last couple of games we have got ourselves into lots of good positions and not made it count.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Woodford, Harris, Williams, Stock, Robinson, Fogden, Swallow, Prior, Paterson, Rutherford, Hayter, Molyneaux, Barker, Medway