Hawks must cut out poor defending

Ollie Palmer in action against Eastleigh. Picture: Dave Haines
Ollie Palmer in action against Eastleigh. Picture: Dave Haines
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Hawks manager Stuart Ritchie admits there is plenty of work to do after his side lost 3-0 to big-spending Eastleigh at Westleigh Park.

Ritchie has plenty to think about as the powerful visitors ran out comfortable winners yesterday.

The result left the Hawks with just two points from their opening four fixtures in Blue Square Bet South.

And the manager knows his side need to improve defensively, after conceding nine goals in the process.

‘We have let in some poor goals so far this season and it has got to stop now,’ said Ritchie.

‘This team shifted 75 goals last season and we have tried to strengthen that.

‘We have to keep working at being defensively sound.

‘If we don’t, it will cause us problems and that is just not good enough.’

Neither side created a clear opening in a robust opening half-hour, before Eastleigh took a 32nd-minute lead from a corner.

Christian Nanetti could only head Daryl McMahon’s deep corner back into the danger area where Moses Ademola made no mistake from close range.

Both teams were denied by the woodwork in the latter stages of the half.

Craig McAllister volleyed against the far post and Nanetti crashed a terrific free-kick on to the crossbar.

The second half though, belonged to Eastleigh who looked a class above as they made their quality count to give boss Ian Baird his first win at Westleigh Park since he quit as Hawks boss in 2007.

On 55 minutes, Jai Reason outmuscled Eddie Hutchinson on the byline and his low cross was diverted high into the net by Marvin Williams.

It was game over in the 62nd minute as Eastleigh notched a third goal, with questions again being asked of the Hawks defence at a set-piece.

McAllister rose unmarked to pick his spot with a header beyond Hawks keeper Clark Masters.

The comprehensive 3-0 loss leaves Hawks second from bottom in the early Blue Square Bet South table.

But Ritchie saw enough from his side to believe they will hit back quickly.

And he’s hoping the return from injury of striker Sahr Kabba will be key to an upturn in fortune.

The Hawks boss added: ‘I don’t think it has been a reality check, it is just a case of looking at your players and deciding if they are good enough.

‘We have been good enough at times but we have looked a little bit one-paced. When we get striker Sahr Kabba back from injury his pace will make a big difference.

‘I was more than happy with the first half against Eastleigh, when I thought we were more than on top and definitely in it.

‘In the second half, though, Eastleigh were on top and took their chances. That was the difference.

‘We should have dealt with things but didn’t. When we had chances to equalise we didn’t take them and it is a struggle at the moment.’

Hawks: Masters 7; Newton 6 (Pearce 67min – 6), Arthur 7, Hutchinson 6, Page 7, Harris 6, Ramsey 5, Hinshelwood 5 (Taggart 5; 60min), Moss 5 (Jones 73min), Palmer 6, Nanetti 6.

Att: 903.