Hawks could yet steal vital second place

Josh Huggins. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Josh Huggins. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Keith Woodland

Hawks boss sickened by home form

  • Bradbury’s side can still gain play-off advantage
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Lee Bradbury believes Hawks can still claim a second-place finish to improve their Vanarama Conference South play-off hopes.

The Hawks boss saw his side grind out a 0-0 draw at fellow play-off candidates Basingstoke Town at the Camrose Ground.

The two sides could yet meet again in the near future with both teams already assured of their places in the post-season battles.

Results elsewhere also meant Whitehawk joined Boreham Wood in the pursuit of a place in the Conference premier next season, with Bromley taking the title.

But the final positions could have a crucial bearing, with the play-off final hosted by the club who finished highest in the table.

And Hawks could put a marker down with victory over Whitehawk on the final day of the regular season next weekend.

Bradbury said: ‘We want to win and try to finish in second place.

‘It is important that we give ourselves as much advantage as possible in the play-off situation.

‘The team that finishes second, if they win through the semi-finals, will host the final.

‘We have to make sure that we keep working hard because there is still lots to play for.’

While it was a solid performance at Basingstoke, there was little quality on display with both sides finding it difficult to cope with a blustery wind.

But Bradbury was happy to settle for a point to extend his team’s unbeaten run to five games.

But the result ensures neither side will take too much of a psychological advantage into the play-offs.

‘It was pleasing to keep another clean sheet and I am happy to come away with a point,’ said Bradbury.

‘Basingstoke is never an easy place to come and conditions were tricky.

‘The strong wind sucked the quality out of the game.

‘With the ball bouncing so much on the hard pitch both teams probably played a lot more direct than they would have liked.

‘However, at this stage we have to regard it as a decent result to keep our unbeaten run going.

‘That is important because we are aiming to go into the play-offs in a positive fashion.’

With Ed Harris suspended Bradbury was forced to reshuffle his defence.

Dan Strugnell moved into the heart of the defence with Josh Huggins slotting in at full-back.

But it was obvious from the start that the game was never going to be a great spectacle because of the wind and a bone-hard pitch.

Basingstoke should have led at the interval, though, after spurning two gilt-edged chances.

Firstly ex-Hawk Jay Gasson blazed over from six yards after the Hawks failed to clear a free-kick.

Chris Flood was guilty of an even bigger miss soon afterwards when he cut out a poor Ben Swallow ball and arrowed in on goal.

With just Ryan Young to beat, he inexplicably failed to hit the target with the goal gaping.

In the second half the two teams continued to cancel each other out with the home side again going closest to breaking the deadlock.

Louie Soares fired against the outside of the post but clear-cut chances remained few and far between in the stalemate.

HAWKS: Young, Huggins, Strugnell, Dutton, Cummings, Awford (Wright, 84), Swallow (Ciardini, 64), Donnelly, Mullings (Hooper, 64), Cornick, Carmichael. Subs not used: Woodford, Bubb