Hawks target maximum points from festive fixtures

Scott Donnelly scored a penalty for the Hawks. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Scott Donnelly scored a penalty for the Hawks. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
AFC Portchester cruised to victory. Picture: Neil Marshall

Frustration for Fareham... Royals cruise through

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Lee Bradbury has targeted a festive run of four wins from four matches after his side climbed to third in the Vanarama Conference South with a 2-0 victory at Bishop’s Stortford.

The Hawks are in good form ahead of their return local derby at Gosport Borough on New Year’s Day.

Nic Ciardini and Scott Donnelly got the goals to see off Stortford and build on the Boxing Day win against Gosport.

Bradbury is delighted with the form of his team.

He has challenged them to complete a maximum-points haul from the run of games over the holiday period.

‘I asked my players to do things right, both on and off the pitch over Christmas,’ said Bradbury.

‘They have shown themselves to be very professional and are reaping their rewards for that.

‘This win says a lot about the players.

‘Our aim now is to push on from here and try to make it a clean sweep over Christmas.

‘We would love to emulate our September success when we won all six games without conceding a goal.’

At Bishop’s Stortford, the Hawks took what was a very difficult test in their stride.

Once they scored two goals in four minutes on the stroke of half-time, there was only ever going to be one winner.

Up until then, both teams cancelled each other out with their quick closing down and hard work.

But it was the visitors who grabbed the initiative, stunning the home side with two quick goals.

Four minutes before the interval Dan Strugnell did well down the right before crossing beyond the far post to Alan Connell.

The experienced striker rolled the ball back across the penalty area to Ciardini, who passed the ball into the net from 12 yards – for his second goal in two games.

Three minutes later, Donnelly converted from the penalty spot after a home defender was adjudged to have handled a corner inside the area.

In the second half, apart from one scare early on when Ashley Miller sent a close-range effort against the near post, the Hawks’ two-goal lead rarely looked in danger.

Bradbury felt the way his side started the contest was crucial in the victory.

‘We showed our intent from the first whistle and Bishop’s Stortford couldn’t deal with our movement and pace,’ added the Hawks boss.

‘Once we got our goals we rarely looked in trouble and our back four and goalkeeper were impressive once again.

‘We looked comfortable and apart from one effort that hit the post they didn’t have any chances.

‘We could have won by a few more because we missed a couple of good chances later on.’

Bradbury believes he has a strong enough squad to deal with the tough schedule.

He feels they are ready to battle for glory at the top of the table and has been delighted with the attitude shown by his players in recent matches as they chase success.

Bradbury said: ‘It was another hungry performance from us and all the members of my squad are eager to be successful.

‘We have the depth in the squad to change things without affecting the quality.

‘There is a desire within this squad to be winners.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Blanchett, Stock, Dutton, Harris, Swallow (Mullings, 71mins), Donnelly, Wright, Connell (Hooper, 61mins), Ciardini (Huggins, 61mins)