Gale expects to roll over Dover

Ian Simpemba, centre, and Mustafa Tiryaki are both suspended for the trip to Dover
Ian Simpemba, centre, and Mustafa Tiryaki are both suspended for the trip to Dover
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170972-31)

Bradbury hails his steely Hawks

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Shaun Gale insists his Hawks can pull off a win at Dover tonight, despite being deprived of four key players (7.45pm).

Skipper Ian Simpemba, Jon McDonald and Mustafa Tiryaki are all suspended for the Blue Square South game, while Leon Cashman has Royal Navy duties.

Confidence is high in the camp, though, after Saturday’s 2-0 win at Basingstoke Town, with the Hawks also basking in an excellent record on the road this season that has generated 25 points so far.

‘It isn’t ideal going to Dover with players missing but we just have to get on with it,’ said Gale.

‘I still believe the starting XI we have is capable of going there and coming away with a result.

‘We have to because we no longer have any margin for error and it is massively important that we get something.

‘If we can show the same work-rate, commitment and desire as we did at the weekend then we can achieve that.

‘At times we have not had the best of luck this season but I still maintain when we have been able to put out our strongest team we have done well.

‘We are under no illusions, though, because Dover are right up there pushing for the play-offs and are a good side.

‘It will be a massive test for the squad.

‘The biggest worry is that we will have only kids without a lot of experience on the bench.’

The absence of captain Simpemba in the heart of the defence is the biggest blow to the Hawks, but youngster James Tyrrell has shown he is up to task whenever he has had a chance.

The ex-Bristol Rovers and Glenn Hoddle Academy player did well at Basingstoke at the weekend but this will be another big test for him.

He will partner Sam Pearce, who missed out at the weekend because of injury, in the heart of the defence, with the attacking potency of striker Adam Birchall posing Dover’s biggest threat.

Ex-Arsenal trainee Birchall grabbed his 29th league goal in the 1-0 win over Boreham Wood at the weekend and is the league’s top scorer.

‘It will be a huge test for both Sam and James but I am sure they will step up to the plate,’ said Gale.

‘We know that we will have to be at our best.’

Gale is hoping Paul Hinshelwood can recover from the groin problem that kept him out of the victory at Basingstoke, otherwise his absence could provide yet another selection headache.

Up front, the Hawks possess the ability to hurt their hosts, with Wes Fogden currently in a rich vein of form – as his spectacular overhead kick against Basingstoke demonstrated.

His ability to run at defenders and turn them inside out could be a big weapon in the Hawks’ armoury.

There were also signs at the weekend that striker Manny Williams is starting to get back to somewhere near his best, and if he is on song it is something else that Dover will have to think about.

In midfield, the Hawks are likely to go with the experienced pair of Sammy Igoe and Ian Selley, who will be attempting to exploit the pace of Giuseppe Sole.

Gale and his players insist they haven’t given up on the play-offs, with the West Leigh Park side 13 points behind fifth-placed Chelmsford City with four games in hand.

With Chelmsford and Dover both visiting the Hawks in the next week, it promises to be a pivotal seven days.

If the Hawks can come away from Dover with at least a point and win both of their forthcoming home games, people might start being less sceptical about their chances.

But defeats could consign the play-off ambitions to the bin for another season.

Hawks: Howe, Ashmore, Newton, Pearce, Tyrrell, Hinshelwood, Igoe, Selley, Ramsey, Fogden, Sole, Williams, Scott, Robson, Whyte, Baldacchino.