Hawks focused on Basingstoke clash

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Ed Harris
Baffins Milton Rovers

Baffins Milton Rovers making big impression in FA Vase

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Lee Bradbury insists the Hawks won’t be taking it easy against Vanarama Conference South play-off rivals Basingstoke Town at the Camrose Ground (3pm).

Both teams are have already booked their places in the play-offs.

We will be going to Basingstoke to attack them and win the game

Lee Bradbury

But there is still a lot at stake in the match.

The winner will join Boreham Wood, who are without a game, in second place on 72 points.

Bradbury has his sights set on finishing as high as possible in order to gain as much advantage as he can going into the play-offs.

The second and third-place teams are given home advantage in the second leg of the play-offs semis, with the higher-ranked finalist side gaining home advantage.

He’ll be looking to ensure his team are right up for the task ahead as they look to continue their excellent recent form.

‘I want to win our final two games and go into the play-offs with some momentum behind us,’said Bradbury.

‘There is a slim chance we can still pip Bromley to the title, though it is unlikely. We will have to win both our games and they have to lose theirs.

‘It is important to keep pushing and see where it takes us.

‘If not then I want us to aim at finishing second and go into the play-offs in a winning mentality.

‘It is imperative we keep the standards that we have set.

‘If we think for one minute that we can just turn up and go through the motions then we will end up with nothing from our final two games.

‘That is not how we want to go into the play-offs.

‘We will be going to Basingstoke to attack them and win the game.’

The Hawks are in a rich vein of form, having won five of their last six league games.

They already boast a 2-0 home win over Basingstoke this season.

Bradbury, however, is forced to make a change in the back four after the appeal against Ed Harris’ red card at Chelmsford City was turned down.

Harris will now miss the final two games and the first leg of the play-off semi-final. The absence of the experienced central defender at such a crucial time is a big blow.

But Bradbury is confident he has options to plug the gap.

‘I have Ryan Woodford available and he has been a fantastic servant to this football club,’ said Bradbury.

‘He has been patient waiting for his opportunity and he will have it now.’

Bradbury can also slide full-back Dan Strugnell across into the middle.

Or he could utilise Josh Huggins who did a good job for 70 minutes after Harris departed at Chelmsford.

Up front JJ Hooper will be hoping his man-of-the-match performance in the Portsmouth Senior Cup final will earn him a recall to the starting line-up.

Hooper scored a stunning opening goal in the 4-2 win over Petersfield Town. He then went on to play a part in all of the other Hawks goals and may get the nod ahead of Ben Wright.

Hawks have held sway against their Hampshire rivals in recent matches and will be gunning to continue that.

It could also be important with two play-off rivals looking to gain any possible advantage they can get.

Bradbury added: ‘We have a good record against Basingstoke recently and we want to keep that up.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Woodford, Dutton, Cummings, Donnelly, Carmichael, Swallow, Cornick, Hooper, Huggins, Ciardini, Wright, Blanchett, Bubb, Awford.

n The Hawks Academy secured the Football Conference Youth Alliance league title with an emphatic 6-1 win at Woking.

Dan Penfold opened the scoring for the visitors, before Woking managed to draw level just before the interval.

But a superb second-half performance from the young Hawks saw them score five unanswered goals and wrap up the league title with two games to go.

Another couple for Penfold completed his well-deserved hat-trick, with 55-goal striker Jake Gale’s double and Marley Ridge seeing the Hawks through to victory.