Hawks aim to start the healing process

Bradley Bubb. Picture: Mick Young (141590-02)

Bradley Bubb. Picture: Mick Young (141590-02)

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The Hawks are aiming to begin the healing process as they launch their FA Trophy campaign at home to East Thurrock United tomorrow (3pm).

Last season’s semi-final defeat to rivals Gosport Borough still hurts.

Manager Lee Bradbury is hoping his team can start their bid to go one better this time and reach a Wembley final.

Bradbury’s men were strong favourites to win the semi-final last season but failed to produce the goods in both games.

As a result it was Borough who enjoyed the glory of a Wembley occasion.

Bradbury said: ‘Missing out on the FA Trophy final last season was a massive disappointment and one of the low points for us.

‘For whatever reason we froze and didn’t play anywhere near what we were capable of.

‘Our aim this time around must be to go one better and it is no point entering unless you want to win it.

‘If we are fortunate to find ourselves in the same position again, then I think we are better equipped to deal with it.

‘We have added a few more experienced faces to our squad, with players like Ryan Young, Brian Stock, Warren Cummings and Alan Connell.

‘First of all, though, we have the tricky obstacle of East Thurrock to negotiate.’

The Essex visitors are 16th in the Ryman League premier division but they demolished Vanarama Conference South side Bath City 7-1 in the FA Cup before losing 2-0 at League Two side Hartlepool United in the first round proper.

Bradbury watched them in their 2-2 draw with Dulwich Hamlet in midweek.

He knows they will pose a threat and has to ensure his team are fully focused on the task ahead.

‘They are a decent side going forward with a couple of dangerous goalscoring forwards,’ said the Hawks boss.

‘Their squad also contains some experienced players who have performed at a higher level.

‘They will have a confidence from their earlier cup exploits and have shown themselves to be fighters.

‘We need to be aware of that and ensure we impose ourselves on the game from the start.’

Bradbury is forced to make changes as two of his most experienced players Stock and Cummings are suspended.

It’s a blow to lose them from the squad but it means opportunities for other players.

There could be first-team chances for full-back Dan Blanchett and midfielder Perry Ryan who will be hoping to show their quality and earn a run in the side.

Both players have found themselves on the fringes because of the good form shown by the rivals for their position.

A hamstring injury to JJ Hooper may also lead to a change up front.

Bradley Bubb and Shamir Mullings are vying for a start.

In recent weeks the Hawks have found it tough to score goals and Bradbury wants to see improvements.

The Hawks boss believes the responsibility should not fall completely on his forward players.

‘It is not just about the strikers but the whole team pitching in,’ he added.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Harris, Blanchett, Donnelly, Ryan, Huggins, Swallow, Hooper, Bubb, Connell, Mullings, Ciardini, Woodford, Searle, Wedlake, Medway

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