Hawks out to avoid three in a row

The Hawks suffered defeat on the opening day of the season against Bromley
The Hawks suffered defeat on the opening day of the season against Bromley
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Keith Woodland

Hawks boss sickened by home form

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Lee Bradbury accepts the Hawks will need to be at their battling best for tomorrow’s visit to title-favourites 
Ebbsfleet United at Stonebridge Road (3pm).

The visitors are desperate to avoid starting their Vanarama Conference South campaign with three successive defeats – following losses against Bromley and Sutton – but that won’t be easy.

Ebbsfleet, who defeated Pompey 3-0 in pre-season, started with a 2-0 midweek win over Concord Rangers and are a powerful unit.

Bradbury needs a committed 90-minute performance and a return to the defensive solidity that brought them 21 clean sheets last season.

They included a 0-0 draw at Ebbsfleet on the opening day last term.

Under the circumstances, Bradbury will regard a repeat of that result as a major achievement.

‘We must look to try to get off the mark but it won’t be easy,’ said Bradbury.

‘If we are going to walk away with anything we will have to be at our very best.

‘In both our games so far we have taken far too long to get going.

‘We have to be at it from the start and brave enough to hurt the opposition early.

‘It is no good waiting until you fall behind before showing what you can do.

‘We can take a lot of encouragement from the way we finished the game at Sutton on Tuesday and must look to carry that on.’

In the final 25 minutes at Gander Green Lane, the Hawks laid seige on the home goal.

A combination of inspired goalkeeping and poor finishing prevented a Hawks equaliser.

It was frustrating for Bradbury, whose team is in real danger of ending the first week empty handed.

To be fair, the three opening games couldn’t have been against tougher opponents for the Westleigh Park outfit.

At the same time, Bradbury has had to cope with injuries and illness to key players.

Brian Dutton, Ben Swallow and Dan Blanchett have all suffered.

All three have done well going on as second-half substitutes and, ideally, are ready for their first starts.

There are still doubts over their match fitness, however, and Bradbury may have to delay that move.

Ex-Pompey youngsters Josh Warren and Ashley Harris are training with the club but are not under consideration for selection.

It has been a difficult start but Bradbury is not unduly concerned.

‘It is very early days and I am not worried,’ said Bradbury.

‘There is plenty more to come from us.

‘In both games so far we have created more chances than the opposition but failed to put them away.

‘We have to go to Ebbsfleet prepared to battle and get something out of the game.

A point will be a good one but we will be going there looking to win the game.’

Hawks: Young, Huggins, Strugnell, Woodford, Harris, Blanchett, Cummings, Donnelly, Dutton, Ryan, Bubb, Mullings, Hooper, Ciardini, Swallow, Wedlake, Monteiro