Gale frustrated as ruthless streak deserts Hawks

Wes Fogden. Picture: Mick Young (161177-07)
Wes Fogden. Picture: Mick Young (161177-07)
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Shaun Gale admitted the Hawks were not good enough in both penalty areas after they slipped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Merstham at Moatside.

The assistant manager left disappointed as the visitors missed out on the chance to return to the top of the Ryman League premier division.

He knows it is a game his team could – and should – have won.

‘We had more than enough chances to put the game to bed,’ said Gale.

‘The goals we conceded were disappointing and, basically, we didn’t manage the game well enough.

‘Once again we failed to be ruthless enough in both penalty areas.

‘We didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can but, even so, could still have won the game.

‘Merstham were a counter-attacking team and in the end they caught us with a sucker-punch.

‘It is a shame we missed out on the chance to go back to the top of the table.

‘We are still reasonably happy with where we are – second in the league with games in hand.’

Not for the first time this season the Hawks spent most of the opening 45 minutes on top – without making it count.

Dan Strugnell had the best chance for the visitors when he put a free header wide from six yards.

Merstham made them pay by taking a 33rd-minute lead following a defensive error.

A slip by Andy Robinson allowed the hosts in and Dan Bennett produced a cool finish from eight yards.

The Hawks’ cause was not helped when Wes Fogden limped off before the break with a hamstring injury.

Ben Swallow was introduced at the start of the second half and he set up an Alfie Rutherford equaliser in the 48th minute.

The winger then saw a 20-yard drive deflected on to the post by the goalkeeper.

Seven minutes from the end, more hesitancy in the Hawks defence ended with Merstham grabbing a winner.

With the visitors failing to deal with a bouncing ball inside the penalty area, Calum Willock volleyed it past keeper Ryan Young.

The Hawks still had chances to salvage a point.

But George Barker failed to hit the target with the best of them in the dying moments.

Gale added: ‘It’s a shame because we have defended well in recent games.

‘The important thing now is to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and be ready to go again.

‘We have some important games coming up over the holiday period.

‘This is the best group of players we have had in all the years I have been at the club.

‘They have a great desire to get us back into National League South.’

HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Williams, Stock, Molyneaux, Harris (Swallow, 45min), Fogden (Barker, 43min), Robinson, Rutherford, Hayter (Prior, 66min), Lewis. Att: 156