Gale’s fears for flair

The Hawks' Craig Braham-Barrett
The Hawks' Craig Braham-Barrett
Matt Tubbs played well against Sutton. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Injuries are big concern but defensive errors also worry Hawks

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Shaun Gale has called on the referee to protect his flair players ahead of their appetising Boxing Day derby date with Eastleigh at Westleigh Park (3pm).

The Hawks manager is expecting a big, physical challenge from the visitors in what is sure to be a spicy affair.

And Gale hopes players like Sammy Igoe and Craig Braham-Barrett are afforded extra protection as he aims to get three points from the game and move closer to Ian Baird’s side in the Blue Square Bet South table.

‘Games between the two sides are usually tight, cagey affairs,’ said Gale.

‘We know what to expect and it is up to us to deal with it.

‘Our style is to get the ball down and pass it around, but they will be coming here to stop us from playing.

‘We have plenty of players with flair and pace in our side and they will need to have some protection.

‘It is pleasing that we go into this game almost at full-strength and I am looking for a maximum points haul over Christmas.

‘If we can achieve that then we can move above Eastleigh, and that is a big incentive.

‘It won’t be easy, though, because Eastleigh are one of the form teams.

‘They have also had an injection of new investment which has led to an influx of players.’

The Hawks go into the game in a confident mood after their excellent 2-1 win at Tonbridge Angels last weekend.

Gale’s side produced a well-organised, disciplined display to pick up their first away win since the opening day of the season.

The return of Leon Cashman from Royal Navy duties, and Chris Arthur, from Northampton Town, has added some much-needed solidity to the side.

The hosts, however, will have to reshuffle their back-line as central-defender Chris Holland has a two-game suspension.

The manager, though, has plenty of options, with Cashman, Jon McDonald, Perry Ryan and Ryan Woodford all able to slot in at the back.

Gale is looking forward to going head to head against former Hawks boss Baird and there is little love lost between the two.

‘People have talked a lot about the ill-feeling between the two clubs but it’s mainly down to Baird,’ said Gale.

‘He takes every opportunity to knock our club and we have had to put up with his attempts to unsettle the team over the years.

‘They unsettled Vincent Pericard by putting in a seven-day approach and still haven’t signed him.

‘We are just concentrating on doing the business on the field and picking up three points.

‘Three of our next four games are at home and we have to capitalise on that.’

Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Arthur, Hinshelwood, Pearce, Igoe, Braham-Barrett, Ryan, Ramsey, Jones, Palmer, Hopkinson, Cashman, Whyte

n In Ryman League division one south, league-leaders Bognor play host to fifth-placed Worthing on Boxing Day (3pm).