Case for the defence to help Hawks

Sam Pearce is in line for a recall to the Hawks' defence tonight Picture: Dave Haines
Sam Pearce is in line for a recall to the Hawks' defence tonight Picture: Dave Haines
Horndean are aiming to make Cup progress at the second attempt

Deans must take second chance in Cup... Royals will be strong

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The Hawks must look to plug their leaky defence as they visit Sutton United for a crucial Blue Square Bet South encounter tonight (7.45pm).

Shaun Gale’s side have shipped 18 goals in their past six games, putting themselves in increasing danger of relegation.

Just three points separate the Hawks and the bottom three after Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at home to mid-table Boreham Wood.

And with their next three games coming against top-five sides, it is an uncomfortable position to be in.

‘Our defending is the major issue at the moment,’ said Gale.

‘Opponents are not having to work hard to score against us and we keep gifting goals away.

‘It has been like that for large parts of the season and it has cost us.

‘Against Boreham Wood in the first half, we didn’t play well and got increasingly desperate.

‘We have got ourselves into a position where we don’t want to be and we were all massively disappointed.

‘It is a tough week ahead and we need to come away from Sutton with something, preferably a win.

‘Anyone can beat anyone in this league so we have to believe we can do it.’

The Hawks will have to beware of their old boys tonight, with the recently-departed Craig Braham-Barrett, striker Leroy Griffiths and Tony Taggart and Kevin Scriven – members of the Hawks’ FA Cup side who played at Liverpool in 2008 – now in the Sutton United ranks.

Braham-Barrett may feel he has something to prove against his old club after failing to make an impact at Westleigh Park.

The south London side are currently fifth and will be keen to consolidate their place in the play-off spots.

It promises to be another demanding game for the Hawks and Gale is almost certain to make changes after the disappointing performance at the weekend.

New midfielder Eddie Hutchinson could be in line for his first start, while full-back Jake Newton is likely to be recalled after returning from international duty with Guyana.

Gale’s biggest problem, though, is in the middle of the defence where Chris Holland didn’t have the best of times against Boreham Wood on Saturday.

That could mean the return of Sam Pearce or Ryan Woodford.

At times against Boreham Wood, the home defence looked in disarray and they won’t be able to afford that at Sutton.

Up front, young Scott Jones is suspended but Pompey Academy loanee Dan Thompson is available again after injury and a bout of sickness.

‘There are no easy games in this league,’ said Gale.

‘I need all 11 of my players to go out and do their jobs for 90-plus minutes.

‘Our situation is not ideal and we need to make sure that it doesn’t get any worse.

‘It is still very much in our own hands and we must keep it that way.’

Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Dolan, Pearce, Woodford, Arthur, Ramsey, Hopkinson, Igoe, Palmer, Hutchinson, McDonald, Hinshelwood, Ryan, Thompson, Holland