Lee Bradbury insisted there’s no room for self-pity as his Hawks side visit newly-promoted Whitehawk tonight (7.45pm).
The Hawks, who currently sit 16th in the Skrill South league table with eight points from their opening seven games, suffered another setback at the weekend with a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Hayes & Yeading.
The Westleigh Park side are now desperate to make up for lost ground – a first away success of the campaign tonight would be a great start.
An added incentive is a win would see the Hawks move above 13th-placed Whitehawk in the league standings.
The players were understandably down after a disappointing performance on Saturday.
But Bradbury demanded they put that result behind them and adopt a ruthless streak in an attempt to kick-start their season on away turf.
‘We can’t afford to feel sorry for ourselves,’ said Bradbury.
‘It is good that we have this game at this time because it gives us a chance to get it out of our system quickly.
‘We have got to be better.
‘It has been frustrating because we have been beating ourselves in recent games.
‘We have conceded poor goals and failed to take our chances at the other end.
‘It is important that we become ruthless in both penalty areas.
‘We started the season looking strong defensively and we have to get back to that.’
Apart from the final four minutes at Bishop’s Stortford the previous weekend, Bradbury’s Hawks have been strong on their travels this season.
They opened up with two excellent goalless draws at Ebbsfleet and Eastleigh – both fancied teams to challenge for the title.
In those games they restricted their hosts to minimal chances and could easily have won both.
At Stortford, the Hawks were equally resilient until the closing minutes, when they were undone by two set-pieces.
They were guilty again of giving goals away at the weekend – and it’s a trend Bradbury is desperate to end.
With full-back Jake Newton fit again, Bradbury is likely to move Dan Strugnell back into the heart of the defence, where he enjoyed great success at the start of the campaign.
Strugnell has done well on the flanks but will welcome a return to his favoured position.
Pedro Monteiro or Eddie Hutchinson are likely to play in front of the back four, with new Pompey loan arrival Ashley Harris continuing on the flank.
Christian Nanetti and Dennis Oli are not expected to return from injury in time to make the squad for the contest
Crawley Town loanee Jonte Smith could make his first start for Hawks in attack.
‘We have to be strong, dust ourselves down and be ready to go again,’ said Bradbury.
‘It will be tough at Whitehawk because, after an indifferent start, they have got better.
‘We are a reasonably young side and have to learn how to see games out and make the correct decisions in the right areas of the pitch.
‘It is important to remain positive.’
Hawks: Fitzsimons, Newton, Harris E, Strugnell, Blanchett, Monteiro, Hutchinson, Ryan, Kewley-Graham, Harris A, Ciardini, Smith J, Kabba, Jones, Woodford, Ramsey, Przpolewski