Hawks fired by teenage courage and French wonder goal

Charlie Searle. Picture: Dave Haines
Charlie Searle. Picture: Dave Haines
AFC Portchester cruised to victory. Picture: Neil Marshall

Frustration for Fareham... Royals cruise through

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Lee Bradbury hailed the bravery of young keeper Charlie Searle after the Hawks claimed a hard-fought 1-0 Skrill South win at Eastbourne Borough.

The 18-year-old academy stopper was drafted in for his fourth first-team appearance after regular number one Scott Bevan (injured) and loanee Benji Buchel (illness) dropped out.

Then midway through the second half, Searle took a hefty knock to the head and needed lengthy treatment.

Without a keeper on the substitutes’ bench, it looked a massive problem for the Hawks who were leading 1-0 at the time.

Searle, although clearly shaken, bravely carried on and helped the visitors continue their push for the play-offs with a crucial success.

‘Charlie became a man out there,’ said Bradbury.

‘He took quite a bang and we were concerned for a while.

‘Safety was paramount but he wasn’t knocked out and we made sure he was okay.

‘He was brave enough to continue playing and his handling was fantastic – even when they put him under intense pressure.

‘The lad has gone way up in my estimation.’

The Hawks other hero was match-winner Nigel Atangana, who capped an imperious performance with a stunning winning goal.

Before the game everybody was still talking about Dan Blanchett’s wonder striker from 40 yards in the midweek win at Boreham Wood.

However, Atangana’s 30-yard strike was as good – if not better.

With the game finely balanced, the French midfielder picked the ball up a long way out, stepped past his defender and thundered an unstoppable drive past the despairing home keeper.

Bradbury said: ‘Nigel deserved that for his performance.

‘He is so athletic, gets around the park and makes tackles.

‘The lad can play and now he is beginning to add goals like that to his portfolio.’

The visitors were the better side in the opening 45 minutes and even when they came under increasing pressure after the break looked the more likely winners.

A combination of solid defending and dangerous counter-attacks meant they were always a threat.

The Hawks have now chalked up four consecutive clean sheets and won three league games, all away from home, in succession.

Bradbury’s team remain 12th in the Skrill South table – nine points behind fifth-placed Weston-Super-Mare.

However, they still have nine games in hand.

The manager refuses to get carried away, however.

And he is predicting another tough week ahead.

‘The players are doing what we have asked them to do,’ said Bradbury.

‘It is hard to do it game after game when you have so many in a short space of time.

‘But so far they have passed the test with flying colours.

‘We have to continue doing that if we want to do anything this season.

‘It has been good and we are picking up some momentum.

‘But we have yet another massive week ahead of us and have to do it all again.

‘Good teams go out and perform week in, week out and at the moment we are doing that.’

HAWKS: Searle, Newton, Blanchett, Ryan, Monteiro, Woodford, Ciardini (Ramsey, 66mins), Atangana, Oli, Jones (Nanetti, 29mins), Donnelly (Hutchinson, 66mins). Subs not used: Przespolewski, Cummings. Att: 537