Hawks promotion hopes clear for lift-off at Concord

Dennis Oli's strength will be key against Concord. Picture: Dave Haines

Dennis Oli's strength will be key against Concord. Picture: Dave Haines

Aaron Dawson. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Lee Bradbury wants the Hawks to use their first-ever visit to Concord Rangers as a springboard to push closer to the play-off places over the Christmas period.

Eight of the Westleigh Park side’s next 10 games are against teams below them in the Skrill South table.

The Hawks have a chance to pick up some momentum in their push for the play-offs.

They are seven points adrift of the positions at the moment – and unbeaten in their last seven games.

In recent weeks Bradbury’s team have also secured their place in last 16 of the FA Trophy and quarter-finals of the Hampshire Senior Cup.

There is a feelgood factor around the squad at the moment, in both performances and results.

But the manager knows it is vital they maintain this through the busy festive period with five games in the next fortnight.

‘We have a busy time with some big games coming up,’ said Bradbury.

‘With so many games squeezed in such a short space of time the results will have a major impact.

‘My aim has always been to get into the new year within touching distance of the play-offs.

‘The next 10 games – on paper – provide us with an opportunity to do just that but it won’t be easy.

‘We are unbeaten in seven games but will have to continue working hard if we want to keep it going.’

There is no doubt that will be the case against Skrill South newcomers Concord, who were promoted from the Ryman League last season.

The Canvey Island side are still coming to terms with life at the higher level, though, and are 15th in the table.

They are a big, strong team who will try to impose themselves on the game early on – particularly from set-plays.

Defensively the Hawks have been impressive of late but will need to display all their resilience again in the face of another physical challenge.

‘They have got some really big experienced lads who will be hard to play against,’ said Bradbury.

‘We will have to make sure we roll our sleeves up and match them.

‘It will also be important that we let our football do the talking and not allow ourselves to get drawn into a battle.

‘There is a fine line between matching them physically and not getting dragged into a slogging match with them.’

The Hawks’ cause will be boosted by the return of powerful target man Dennis Oli up front after he missed the Whitehawk FA Trophy replay through illness.

Winger Christian Nanetti is expected to return from injury and will be included in the squad. Warren Cummings is also back in contention at full-back after being cup-tied but Jake Newton remains a doubt with his back injury.

Bradbury has hinted he may have another striker at the top of his Christmas shopping list.

He wants to add to his striking options going into the new year in a bid to increase his firepower.

Hawks: Bevan, Strugnell, Harris, Monteiro, Blanchett, Cummings, Atangana, Ryan, Ciardini, Kabba, Oli, Jones, Przespolewski, Hutchinson, Ramsey, Woodford, Kewley-Graham

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