Hawks end pre-season with League Two scalp

Nic Ciardini. Picture by Dave Haines
Nic Ciardini. Picture by Dave Haines
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HAWKS manager Lee Bradbury believes things are finally coming together after his side registered a 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon last night.

Bradley Bubb scored the second-half winner in their final pre-season outing at Westleigh Park.

Bradbury said: ‘I was pleased with that. We worked hard and passed the ball well.

‘Hopefully things are coming together at the right time.

‘We’re starting to get players back.

‘It was good to see JJ Hooper come through 25 minutes unscathed.’

The home side were without injured pair Brian Dutton and Ben Swallow but on the plus side they had JJ Hooper and Dan Blanchett back on the substitutes bench.

Former Don Ed Harris also made a welcome comeback to the first XI following his head injury in the friendly against Hungerford Town.

In the first half, the Hawks had some defending to do as the League Two side put them under some early pressure.

Josh Huggins cleverly created the Hawks’ first threat but the strikers were too slow in reacting to his cross.

Ex-Hawk Chris Arthur forced a good near-post save from Ryan Young with a fierce angled drive after 16 minutes.

Bubb went closest to breaking the deadlock on the half hour with a low shot that flew narrowly past the far post.

Nic Ciardini went even closer minutes later with a deflected shot that was turned round the post by the diving goalkeeper.

However, the score remained goalless at the break.

In a lively start to the second period, Shamir Mullings ballooned a clear chance over the top.

The Hawks finally made the breakthrough on 52 minutes with a composed finish from striker Bubb.

Ciardini threaded the ball through and Bubb calmly stroked his shot past the advancing goalkeeper.

With Scott Donnelly running the midfield, it was an encouraging display from the Hawks.

At the back, the home side looked organised and kept their shape well to deny Wimbledon any clear-cut chances.

And when the visitors broke through, Young pulled off two good saves to deny Ade Azeez and Arthur in the latter stages of the game.

Their clean sheet was the third in a row during pre-season and bodes well for the start of the season.

Bradbury added: ‘I’ve been pleased with our pre-season, playing some good teams and not doing ourselves any harm.

‘We’re now moving into the business side of things with another week of hard work going into our first competitive game.

‘The real test comes next Saturday against Bromley.’

The Hawks host the Kent side in their Conference South opener on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

HAWKS: Young, Huggins, Cummings, Woodford, Strugnell, Harris, Ryan, Donnelly, Mullings, Bubb, Ciardini.

Subs: Blanchett, JJ Hooper, Wedlake, Searle, Medway.

AFC WIMBLEDON: Shea, Pilbeam, Kennedy, Phillips, Bulman, Nicholson, Francomb, Sweeney, Arthur, Azeez, Takyi.

Subs: Beere, Harrison, Kaja, Jacquart, McDonell.