LEE BRADBURY praised his play-off chasing Hawks side after they earned a ‘big three points’ in their 1-0 Skrill South win over Bath City at Westleigh Park last night.
Nic Ciardini’s second-half thunderbolt fired the hosts to a priceless victory over promotion rivals City, as they climbed to seventh place – four points off Dover Athletic who occupy the fifth and final play-off spot.
It’s the second time in the space of three days that Bradbury’s side have won by a 1-0 scoreline – after Sahr Kabba scored the only goal of the game in Saturday’s victory over Basingstoke.
The Hawks boss said: ‘This was a big three points gained against very good opponents.
‘Bath’s front two are as bright as they come but we dealt with them really well.
‘We defended well from front to back which was a real big positive.
‘In the second half I was pleased with the way we passed the ball and the manner in which we saw the game out.’
And Bradbury has called on his side to keep their winning run alive as they close in on the play-off pack.
He added: ‘We are starting to pick up momentum again having won our last two games.
‘All we can do now is keep on winning and see where it gets us.’
The Hawks boss maintained his policy of player rotation by making five changes.
Daniel Blanchett, Christian Nanetti, Nigel Atangana, Matt Paterson and Nic Ciardini returned to the starting line-up.
On seven minutes, sixth-placed Bath almost made an early breakthrough, when Noah Keats sent a point-blank header crashing against the crossbar.
It was a huge let-off for the hosts, who were then indebted to a fine recovery challenge from Dan Strugnell.
The full-back had almost gifted Andy Watkins a clear run on goal, but recovered well to slide the ball away for a corner.
From the resulting flag-kick, Joe Burnell rose above the defence to send a header wide of the far post.
Scott Donnelly then went within a whisker of breaking the deadlock five minutes before the break, when his free-kick struck the base of the post.
Perry Ryan sent a downward header straight at City goalkeeper Jason Mellor in the opening minutes of the second period as the Hawks went in search of a priceless goal.
It continued to be a good contest between two sides committed to attack in their bid to keep up a play-off push.
The Hawks broke the deadlock in the 56th minute with substitute Dennis Oli making his presence felt.
The powerful striker saw his firmly-struck shot blocked and turned away for a corner.
When Mellor punched his clearance to the edge of the area, Ciardini fired the ball back through a crowd of players and past the keeper and into the net.
Spurred on by the goal Ciardini soon flashed another fierce effort narrowly over the top.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes the visitors pushed forward looking to salvage something from the game.
The Hawks, however, remained well-organised at the back to keep the visitors out.
Hawks: Buchel, Newton, Blanchett, Ryan, Strugnell, Woodford, Nanetti, Atangana, Paterson, Donnelly, Ciardini
Substitutes: Kabba, Monteiro, Przespolewski, Bassele, Oli