Gale: Victory needed against basement boys

Ryan Woodford celebrates his goal against Maidenhead with Perry Ryan

Ryan Woodford celebrates his goal against Maidenhead with Perry Ryan

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The Hawks travel to Blue Square Bet South basement boys Thurrock tomorrow knowing that only a win will do.

The game is the first of three against teams fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the league table, with Shaun Gale’s side also due to face Hampton & Richmond Borough and Bromley in the next 10 days.

Currently sitting 14th in the division, the Hawks need points on the board if they are to avoid getting dragged into a relegaion dogfight.

A repeat of the performance produced against Maidstone last week – when the Hawks defied the odds to secure a 2-1 win despite going down to 10 men – would go a long way to rectifying their current plight.

That helped boost morale in the Westleigh Park camp, but Gale knows his side can’t take their visitors lightly during a vital spell for the club.

‘We face three important games and it is vital we come out the other side with the right number of points,’ he said.

‘It will all be down to how well we apply ourselves.

‘As a team this season, we have often been guilty of beating ourselves and that is frustrating.

‘If you look at our squad, with a few exceptions, we are basically a young side that is still learning.

‘They all put in a terrific shift last week and we must carry on where we left off against Maidenhead at Thurrock.

‘They might be bottom of the league but they have recently brought some quality players into their side and have improved their results.

‘The fact they are still to win at home this season gives them an extra incentive and we don’t want to become their first victims.

‘We are expecting a very difficult game.

‘If we are to come away with the right result we will have to win our battles all over the park before making our quality count.’

Gale has the luxury of an almost full-strength squad to choose from for the trip to Thurrock.

The one doubt is central-defender Sam Pearce, though, who broke his nose last week and experienced breathing problems.

If Pearce fails a fitness test then it is likely that Ryan Woodford, who scored after coming on as a substitute last Saturday, will slot into his place.

Striker Ollie Palmer returns from his fortnight’s holiday and comes straight back into the squad.

It remains to be seen, though, if there will be a place in the squad for the experienced Lee Peacock, who was left out of the squad for Welling in midweek.

The Hawks arrived at the Park View Road ground an hour before the kick-off, only to be told the game had been called off because of a frozen pitch.

‘There is a healthy competition for places and I have some difficult decisions to make,’ said Gale.

‘It is all about keeping the shirt and a lot of players staked their claim last week.

‘I don’t envisage making many changes if any.’

Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Holland, Woodford, Pearce, McDonald, Arthur, Ryan, Hinshelwood, Ramsey, Hopkinson, Jones, Thompson, Palmer, Braham-Barrett, Cashman, Peacock

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