Hawks defender has grounds for optimism

Dan Strugnell. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142721-7)
Dan Strugnell. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142721-7)
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Keith Woodland

Hawks boss sickened by home form

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Dan Strugnell insists the Hawks can go ahead and finish the job against Canvey Island tonight (7.45pm).

The Westleigh Park outfit entertain the Essex side in an FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay.

The two sides fought out a 0-0 draw in their first meeting at Prospects Lane on Saturday.

The Ryman League premier division side showed enough in the first game to suggest they still pose a threat.

Strugnell is aware of the danger but believes home advantage can give the Hawks the edge.

‘The first game was tough and a bit of a graft at times,’ he said.

‘We had to dig in towards the end and we were not too disappointed to come away with the draw.

‘The conditions were difficult for us and the pitch wasn’t the best.

‘It was very dry and slowed the ball up, which made it difficult to get our passing game going.

‘It favoured their game and they got into our faces from the start.

‘As a squad we are confident we can come away with the right result in the replay.

‘We still have a job to do and won’t underestimate them at all.

‘It will be a tough game but on our pitch we should be able to play our football.

‘Westleigh Park is probably the best playing surface at our level.

‘And we will look to make the most of it.’

Canvey Island will arrive on the south coast looking to repeat their hard-working performance at the weekend.

They possess a threat in striker John Sands, who gave the Hawks defenders a busy afternoon in Essex.

The home side will need to remain alert at the back to deal with the quick counter-attacks.

Boss Lee Bradbury has warned his players there is still plenty to do.

He knows they cannot take anything for granted.

The slicker pitch, though, will help them get their passing game back on track.

On Saturday, the Hawks bypassed their midfield too much – hitting the ball long for the front two to chase.

Canvey showed themselves to be capable of dealing with that and a repeat would play into their hands.

The Hawks will look to get Scott Donnelly, Nic Ciardini and Brian Stock on the ball to open up the Canvey defence.

Strugnell said: ‘We know we need to be at our best but all the players are so up for it.

‘There is still a job to be done.

‘And hopefully there will be a big crowd there getting behind us and cheering us on.

‘We want to make sure we get into the first round proper.’

The winners of tonight’s replay were last night drawn at home to Preston North End in the first round proper.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Harris, Cummings, Stock, Ciardini, Donnelly, Bubb, Hooper, Huggins, Mullings, Swallow, Woodford, Blanchett, Ryan, Searle