Bradbury urges his Hawks to keep their cool

Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Dave Haines

Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Dave Haines

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Lee Bradbury insists it is time for cool heads as the Hawks prepare to welcome Dover Athletic to Westleigh Park for the second time in four days (7.45pm).

The original contest was abandoned in acrimonious circumstances on the hour mark on Saturday – with the Hawks leading 1-0.

At that point, a poor tackle sparked an ugly brawl which ended with three players being sent off – two from the visitors and the home side’s Perry Ryan.

The badly cut-up pitch, which had been saturated by torrential rain, was already making life difficult for both sets of players.

And under pressure from Dover, the referee decided to abandon the match.

After watching his team dominate the contest until that point, Bradbury is convinced his team would have gone on to win.

But the Hawks will now have to start from scratch when the game is replayed tonight.

And the boss is keen to see his men keep their cool in what is likely to be a highly-charged battle – and finish what they started.

‘We are looking to let our football do the talking,’ said Bradbury.

‘It will be a difficult game but we intend to go out and finish the job.

‘Players who were sent off in the first game are eligible to play but for us it is about keeping our discipline.

‘Some people might see it as a grudge game but my players know they have to forget what has gone on before.

‘We will be professional in our approach and continue to do what has worked for us.’

Improved discipline has been one of the key factors behind the massive progress shown since Bradbury took charge in October.

Before that, a spate of red cards had undermined their start to the season – and threatened to derail the whole campaign.

Bradbury has installed a new code of conduct for his players to follow and they have responded in magnificent fashion.

Ryan has apologised to the manager after his dismissal for retaliation.

But in truth, he would have needed to be a saint not to react to Steve Thomson’s shocking challenge.

The midfielder spent six and a half hours in casualty on Saturday night but fortunately nothing is broken.

The referee admitted to Bradbury it was the worst tackle he had seen all season.

Ryan is hoping to be back before the end of the season but admits he was lucky.

‘The wet pitch saved me,’ said the former Pompey youngster.

‘Because it was so wet my leg was able to move with the tackle otherwise it could have been a career-ending challenge.

‘It was a coward’s tackle and I expected more from a player of Thomson’s experience. We had a spat a few minutes earlier when I tried to run into the corner and he had hold of my shirt.

‘He challenged me to get on the ball but I wasn’t going to let him intimidate me.

‘Dover like to try and bully people and we weren’t going to let them do it.

‘We played to our strengths and they didn’t like it when they couldn’t get their way.’

Apart from Ryan, Bradbury has a full strength squad to choose from.

Supporters who produce the original ticket stubs from the first game will be allowed free entry into Westleigh Park tonight.

Hawks: Masters, Newton, Harris, Gotta, Grant, Ramsey, Arthur, Hutchinson, Nanetti, Kabba, Palmer, Jones, Bossman, Strugnell Monteiro, Ryan, Weekes

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