Hawks pay penalty but boss is happy with start

Scott Jones, centre, in action against Wycombe. Pic: Malcolm Wells
Scott Jones, centre, in action against Wycombe. Pic: Malcolm Wells
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The Hawks succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat as they kicked off their pre-season campaign against League Two outfit Wycombe Wanderers at Westleigh Park.

A 63rd-minute strike from Dean Morgan was enough to seal success for the Chairboys – as Perry Ryan had a last-minute penalty saved.

But Hawks boss Lee Bradbury was in an upbeat mood after the match – especially given the number of new faces on show.

The former Pompey striker said: ‘I was really pleased.

‘I thought the lads applied themselves very well and worked very hard.

‘We have only had four training sessions so far and I thought the new lads settled in well and looked like good assets to the club.’

Wycombe played with two different sides starting each half.

And it was their second-half line-up that looked most effective.

For the opening 45 minutes the Hawks looked the sharper team with Steve Ramsey involved in all their best moves.

Playing on the left of the midfield, he displayed his superb range of passing and created the Hawks’ best chance.

Ramsey crossed for Ollie Palmer but the striker headed narrowly wide of the far post.

Of the new Hawks, Daniel Blanchett never put a foot wrong at left-back.

And Nic Ciardini looked effective – not only going forward but making a couple of very strong tackles when helping out his defence. The Hawks rearguard also looked rock solid with experienced goalkeeper Scott Bevan behind them and Eddie Hutchinson playing in a defensive midfield role.

Bevan produced a superb stop just before half-time when a fine free-kick – taken 25 yards out – by Max Kretzschmar looked likely to find the net only for the 6ft 7in stopper to tip the ball around the post.

Bradbury made various changes of his own on the hour mark, which included bringing on academy aces Charlie Searle, in goal, and Harry Wedlake for their debuts.

The boss said: ‘I just felt the boys had trained hard with us, looked comfortable in the group and we just need to drip feed them in. They both did well.’

Three players who really excelled in the latter part of the match were Sahr Kabba, Julian Owusu and Taiwo Adebowale.

They caused problems for the Wycombe defenders – and it was one such break from Adebowale late in the game which led to the Hawks’ best chance of the game.

As he strode forward with the ball at his feet, Kabba and Owusu pulled the defence apart with some intelligent running.

The final pass by Adebowale found Owusu, 15 yards from goal, but the ball was taken off his toes by some excellent defending at the expense of a corner.

From the corner, Steven Craig foolishly handled the ball inside his own area, giving the Hawks an 89th minute penalty.

Up stepped Ryan, who did little wrong with his drive but Wycombe keeper Charlie Horlock saved well to keep his team in front.

Bradbury later turned his attention to tomorrow night’s clash with Pompey.

He said: ‘I hope both sets of fans turn out in great numbers to experience what will hopefully be a close match.

‘Portsmouth and the surrounding area are full of people who love and appreciate football and the importance of supporting their sides.’

HAWKS (squad): Bevan, Newton, Blanchett, Hutchinson, Strugnell, Woodford, Ramsey, Ryan, Palmer, Jones, Ciardini, Kabba, Searle, Monteiro, MacDonald, Adebowale, Wedlake, Owusu