Bradbury warns Hawks’ rivals not to park the bus

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Jack Breed heads towards goal. Picture: Keith Woodland (171011-0049)

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Lee Bradbury has warned Basingstoke Town not to turn up at Westleigh Park with the sole intention of stopping his side from playing.

Bradbury feels he has the quality in his squad to ensure teams who do set out to park the bus will be punished.

Second-placed Basingstoke travel to the south coast tomorrow for a Vanarama Conference South derby (3pm).

They have one of the best defensive records in the league and will threaten to halt the Hawks’ revival.

However, Bradbury’s team have recorded back-to-back wins and can approach the contest in a confident frame of mind.

‘I am expecting another tight affair between two in-form teams,’ said Bradbury.

‘Basingstoke are always one of the most difficult teams to play against because of the way they organise things.

‘The trick, very often, is to remain patient as we showed in the 2-0 win against Hemel Hempstead.

‘We have to keep the belief in our style of play and make sure we maintain our passing game.

‘There is enough quality in the squad now to unlock defences even if it takes time.’

The arrival of experienced pair Brian Stock and Alan Connell in the last week has given everyone a huge lift.

After the disappointing home defeat at the hands of Bishop’s Stortford, the Hawks certainly needed a boost.

And the new arrivals at Westleigh Park have provided it.

Stock, who was with Championship Burnley last season, has added a bit of steel and has good vision in midfield.

That has allowed Scott Donnelly a lot more freedom to get on the ball in more forward areas.

It paid dividends in midweek, with Donnelly grabbing the all-important opening goal in the win against Hemel Hempstead.

Pacy striker Bradley Bubb suddenly has a greater spring in his step, with Connell alongside him in attack.

Bubb scored a brace at Farnborough last weekend as he benefited from the new partnership.

Bradbury knows the importance of having experienced players in his squad.

He believes he also has more flexibility within his ranks now.

Bradbury added: ‘We now have an experienced spine running through the middle of the team.

‘At the same time, it gives us the depth needed to stand any chance of being successful at this level.

‘Now I have far more options available and a number of players who can go on and change games.

‘It is all about the squad and all the players will have an important part to play during the season.’

Bradbury is also encouraged by his side’s two consecutive clean sheets. He feels the team are getting back to last season’s standards.

The Hawks kept an impressive 21 shut outs in 2013-14, which almost got them into the play-offs.

Bradbury believes the team are on course to challenge again.

He said: ‘We are three points better off after nine games than we were last season.

‘It has been a morale-boosting week but there is still a lot of hard work ahead.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Harris, Cummings, Stock, Ciardini, Donnelly, Bubb, Connell, Huggins, Blanchett, Woodford, Monteiro, Swallow, Mullings, Hooper