Bradbury praises defender’s response

Dan Strugnell, left, celebrates his goal against Hayes & Yeading at Westleigh Park on Sunday
Dan Strugnell, left, celebrates his goal against Hayes & Yeading at Westleigh Park on Sunday
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Manager Lee Bradbury has praised the character shown by young Hawks defender Dan Strugnell this season.

Strugnell suffered a torrid evening as the Hawks took on League One Preston North End in the FA Cup back in November.

Broadcast live on TV, the full-back was given the run around by on-loan Aston Villa forward Callum Robinson, whose hat-trick helped dump the Westleigh Park side out of the competition.

That experience might have knocked the youngster’s confidence but Strugnell hasn’t allowed it to faze him one bit.

Since then the Bournemouth-based defender has bounced back with a string of outstanding performances and is now one of the first names on the Hawks teamsheet each week.

At the weekend he capped another superb display with a rare goal from open play.

And Bradbury isn’t the least bit surprised by the response from Strugnell.

‘I said to him after the Preston game that he isn’t going to come up against players of that calibre very often,’ said Bradbury.

‘Robinson had played in the Premiership for Villa and represented England at under-20 level.

‘Every player in every team has a bad game at some stage and the important thing is to learn from them.

‘It’s what you do and how you move forward from it that’s important.

‘It was a good lesson for him and it is all about learning when to go forward, when to drop off and when to tackle.

‘We talked about all those things and he showed that he has learned from that against Hayes & Yeading at the weekend.

‘He was up against another quick, tricky player but he contained him well and dealt with his directness and pace.

‘I gave Dan his Football League debut when he was with me at Bournemouth and he has always been a level-headed lad.’

Strugnell signed for the Hawks last season after a successful loan spell at Westleigh Park the previous season.

He had the option of staying at Dean Court but decided to make the move to the Hawks permanent in order to get regular first-team football.

It was a gamble but one that looks to have paid off, with the defender now making over 100 appearances for the Hawks.

He joined originally as a central defender but has since made the switch to right-back.

Strugnell is also a potent threat at set-pieces with his ability in the air – although his goal against Hayes on Sunday owed nothing to that.

When the visitors cleared the ball to the edge of their area Strugnell curled a delightful shot into the top corner of the net.

‘I rate Dan as one of the best full-backs in our league,’ added Bradbury.

‘In one-versus-one defending he rarely gets beat, he’s sharp and can defend the far post and likes to get forward.

‘His goal on Sunday was a great one with his left-foot and I doubt he’ll get another as good as that for a long time.’