Hawks bOSS Lee Bradbury rates his side’s FA Trophy second-round tie at Grimsby tomorrow as their biggest test yet since taking charge at Westleigh Park (3pm).
But he believes his charges are more than capable of taking a step closer to Wembley.
The Mariners are second in the Blue Square Bet Premier and 6/1 third favourites to lift the Trophy at the home of football in March.
They go into tomorrow’s clash at Blundell Park on the back of a four-match unbeaten run.
Yet the Hawks showed in beating Braintree Town in the last round that they can beat Blue Square Bet Premier opponents.
Bradbury has also got his team playing with increasing confidence and reckons they can thrive playing on the bigger stage.
‘Grimsby are flying high in their league and are probably a Football League side in all but name,’ said Bradbury.
‘They have a good professional set-up and I remember playing against them in the Championship not too many years ago.
‘I know their boss Paul Hurst and he will want to get things right and be looking to win the game.
‘The league is also important to them and maybe they will have one eye on that.
‘It is a good game for us to measure how far we have come.
‘I think since I have been here we have slowly started to climb the ladder and taken some positive strides. We proved at Braintree that we can go away from home and beat a Conference team.’
Bradbury and his assistant Shaun Gale are working hard to transform the Hawks’ fortunes, both on and off the pitch.
That professional approach is evident in the way the players turn up smartly in suits and ties on matchdays, while on the field they are looking far more confident.
The boss has succeeded in utilising the pace of players like Chris Arthur, Sahr Kabba and Christian Nanetti, getting them into areas where they can hurt the opposition.
Meanwhile, defensively, his side is developing far more resilience.
And although they still only have one clean sheet to their name all season, the Hawks are shipping less goals from individual mistakes.
With that in mind, Bradbury knows if his troops play to their full potential at Grimsby they can cause the home side a lot of problems.
‘We will go there with no fear aiming to win it ,’ said Bradbury.
‘All the pressure is on them being at home and favourites.
‘If they perform they should probably beat us but we will look to make it as difficult as we can for them.
‘We will go up there and work hard and give it a real good go.
‘Our intention is to get the ball down, play and take the game to them.
‘We have got pace in our front four and good legs in the team. That’s enough to frighten any team.
‘A lot of my players have ambitions to play at a higher level and this is a great chance for them to show what they can do.’
Bradbury, who has the rare luxury of a full-strength squad to choose from, takes them up north today.
They will stop to train at Derby County en-route.
HAWKS: Masters. Newton, Harris, Woodford, Butler, Hutchinson, Bailey, Arthur, Ryan, Nanetti, Palmer, Kabba, Ramsey, Taggart, Hinshelwood, Moss, Jones