Focused Hawks grind out point ahead of Preston tie

JJ Hooper hit the woodwork for the Hawks. Picture: Mick Young (141590-01)
JJ Hooper hit the woodwork for the Hawks. Picture: Mick Young (141590-01)
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Keith Woodland

Hawks boss sickened by home form

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Lee Bradbury praised his players after the Hawks battled to a 0-0 draw at Whitehawk in the Vanarama Conference South.

With the televised FA Cup tie against League One side Preston up next, the Hawks could easily have been distracted.

Instead they showed they were fully focused on the job in hand, with a hard-working performance in conditions that were far from ideal.

In a game of few chances it was the Hawks who went closest to winning the game when JJ Hooper crashed a shot against the inside of the post.

Hawks boss Bradbury was happy his side did not allow their upcoming FA Cup match to enter their minds.

He said: ‘It would have been easy for us to take our eye off the ball.

‘It is to the players’ credit that they didn’t allow that to happen.

‘There was no talk about the big FA Cup game.

‘They put that completely out of their mind and recognised it is all about playing for their shirt week in, week out.

‘As a result they worked very hard and got most things right.

‘Maybe we didn’t pass the ball as well as we can and lacked a little bit of quality at times.

‘But they rolled up their sleeves to come away with an important point.

‘Every point counts at the end of the season.’

Whitehawk’s Enclosed Ground far from lives up to its name.

Both ends are relatively open and there is little protection from the elements, particularly from the blustery wind.

The uneven sloping pitch only added to the difficulties faced by both teams.

But Bradbury was pleased to see his men dig in, with conditions not as they would have liked.

‘Not all pitches are like ours,’ he said. ‘We work hard on ours to produce a surface that allows a good passing game.’

Playing up the slope in the first half, the Hawks did well to nullify the Whitehawk threat.

Defensively the visitors were sound, keeping their shape and closing the strikers down well.

It was even better in the second half with the Sussex side limited to long-range efforts which failed to trouble goalkeeper Ryan Young.

The Hawks had the best two chances to win the game – one in each half.

Substitute Alan Connell, on for the injured Bradley Bubb, was put clear by Hooper before half-time.

The striker burst into the area but placed his shot too close to the keeper who saved with his foot.

Hooper was then denied by the woodwork late on.

‘We didn’t do ourselves any harm going into the big cup tie,’ said Bradbury.

‘Whitehawk is never an easy place to come and get anything.

‘It would have been easy for the players to go through the motions, making sure they didn’t get injured.

‘Instead they got on with the job.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Stock (Ryan 90mins), Dutton, Harris, Swallow (Mullings 80mins), Donnelly, Hooper, Bubb (Connell 36mins), Huggins

Att: 240