LEE BRADBURY has urged his youthful Hawks to learn from their FA Trophy defeat at Grimsby Town – and quickly.
A disastrous opening 10 minutes put paid to their hopes of springing a second-round upset on Saturday.
The visitors found themselves 2-0 behind to the Blue Square Bet Premier title-chasers in the blink of an eye.
And the Mariners added further goals either side of the interval to claim a 4-0 victory and take their place in the last-16 of the competition.
Bradbury hopes a below-par display at Blundell Park won’t do any lasting damage to his side’s league aspirations, with the Hawks making progress in Blue Square Bet South in recent weeks.
‘Everyone says “the league is the priority” when they come out of the cup but it’s true,’ said Bradbury.
‘We can’t affect Saturday’s result now and I’ve told the lads to learn from it and take it on board so when we get back into that position, it doesn’t happen again.
‘We’ve got a big Christmas period coming up with lots of games and we have a small squad, so we’re going to need everyone to stick together and push on.
‘I didn’t want the lads to get down about losing because Grimsby are a good team but it’s going to knock them a little bit.
‘The good thing is that we’ve got another game tomorrow in the Hampshire Senior Cup against Totton.
‘Hopefully they can put in a good performance there, win that game and their confidence levels will rise again.’
The Hawks were playing catch-up from the second minute after Grimsby centre-half Shaun Pearson headed home a free-kick.
Within seven minutes, home striker Andy Cook planted another header into the corner past Clarke Masters.
Bradbury’s men were struggling to prevent crosses flying in and paid the price again in the 36th minute when Greg Pearson glanced home to make it 3-0.
After the break came the Hawks’ best chance of the afternoon.
Sahr Kabba crossed for an unmarked Ollie Palmer to head goalwards – only to be denied by a flying save from home stopper James McKeown. The hosts were then reduced to 10 men as Joe Colbeck received a second yellow card for an ugly lunge on Hawks full-back Dan Butler.
But any hopes of a grandstand finish were extinguished on the hour when Cook fired in the fourth.
‘It’s so disappointing, the way we started the game,’ said Bradbury.
‘I wanted us to stay in it as long as we could but we found ourselves 2-0 down within 10 minutes and it was always going to be a mountain to climb then.
‘If that chance for Ollie goes in after the break that could change the momentum of the game and we had a lot more of the ball after they went down to 10 men.
‘I was happier with the second half but it was boys against men in the first 10 to 20 minutes.
‘We’re a young group and I think some of our lads were almost overawed at the start.
‘They have to learn from that if they want to go on and play at a higher standard, which they do.
‘None of them really did themselves justice – they can all play a lot better and have recently.’