Hawks boss warns of Cup ‘banana skin’

Wes Fogden is expected to be fit for the visit of Sholing
Wes Fogden is expected to be fit for the visit of Sholing
Andreas Robinson. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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The Hawks start their FA Cup campaign with a ‘banana-skin’ of a tie against Southern League side Sholing at Westleigh Park (3pm).

On paper, the Hawks should possess too much quality for the visitors, who play two leagues below them.

But the history of the competition is littered with upsets.

It would be a huge blow, both financially and to morale, if the Hawks were to go out at the first hurdle for them – the second qualifying round.

And Shaun Gale knows his side will have to be on their guard.

The last thing the Hawks boss wants is any slip-ups.

‘If your approach isn’t right, all games can be banana skins,’ said Gale.

‘We have to do things correctly or the danger is we can easily come unstuck.

‘This is a great competition and I am sure Sholing will come and do their level best to make it as difficult as possible for us.

‘I wouldn’t expect any different because they have some good, quality players in their side.

‘We know it is their cup final and they will throw everything at us.

‘It is vital that we concentrate and offer them little or no encouragement, particularly early on.

‘Our attitude and frame of mind have to be right.

‘We have the quality in our side to hurt teams playing at a higher level than us but we won’t be able to just turn up on the day and expect it to happen.

‘It would be a disaster if we went out in the first stage, particularly to a club playing in a lower league.

‘It is up to us to make it happen.’

Ollie Palmer, who signed from Woking this week, comes straight into the squad.

Gale believes the striker will boost the Hawks’ firepower, which has been an area for concern.

Wes Fogden has regularly got on the scoresheet but fellow forwards Lee Peacock, Scott Jones and Craig Braham-Barrett have had limited success in front of goal.

At 6ft 5in tall, Palmer will give the Hawks a greater physical presence and increase options available up front.

‘He is young and raw but offers us something different,’ said Gale.

The home side are also boosted by the return of combative midfielder Steve Ramsey after a five-match ban.

Neil Barrett and Fogden took heavy knocks at Dover last weekend but Gale expects them to be fit, although full-back Jon McDonald’s ankle injury is likely to keep him out.

Jones is still troubled by calf problems and is likely to make only the substitutes’ bench, while Jake Newton plays his final game before flying out to Guyana for their World Cup preparations.

Hawks: Beazely, Newton, Pearce, Woodford, Arthur, Igoe, Barrett, Ryan, Fogden, Ramsey, Peacock, Braham-Barrett, Palmer, Okus, Holland, Jones, Ashmore, White, Scott.