‘Hungry’ Hawks still in with a Shot of Wembley

Nic Ciardini in action for the Hawks Picture: Dave Haines
Nic Ciardini in action for the Hawks Picture: Dave Haines
Theo Lewis scored for the Hawks in the 38th minute at Wealdstone. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Good show on the road as Hawks impress to beat Wealdstone

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Hawks boss Lee Bradbury praised his side’s will to win as they beat 10-man Aldershot 4-1 to book an FA Trophy semi-final showdown with Gosport Borough.

The Westleigh Park side were considered slight underdogs for the re-arranged quarter-final clash against their Skrill Premier opponents.

But, after fighting a strong wind and a Shots team determined to march on into the last four in the first half, the home side survived the test and excelled after the restart to join their Skrill South neighbours in the next round.

The sending off of the Shots’ Jordan Roberts helped them on their way.

However, the way the home side responded – with second-half strikes from Dennis Oli, Nigel Atangana, Nic Ciardini and Alex Przespolewski delighted Bradbury.

As did the Hawks’ never-say-die attitude throughout the tie.

‘We showed tremendous determination and guts in very difficult conditions,’ said Bradbury.

‘To a man, we worked so hard and showed how hungry we are to get to the next level.

In the first half, it was backs-to-the-wall defending against the wind.

‘But I thought if we could get to half-time still goalless, then we had a chance of going on to win the game.

‘The sending off was a turning point but we ran out comfortable winners in the end.

‘We adjusted to the conditions, passed the ball when we could and scored some fantastic goals.’

The Hawks suffered a blow before kick-off, with the loss of leading goalscorer Sahr Kabba with an ankle injury.

As a result, Scott Jones was drafted in to play up front – and he went close to giving the Hawks a dream start in the opening seconds.

Ciardini released the striker down the right and he cut in before sending a shot inches past the far post.

The visitors soon settled and keeper Scott Bevan had to get his body behind an angled drive from Mark Molesley.

Aldershot threatened again on 10 minutes, with Brett Williams heading wide.

Meanwhile, Bevan denied Williams with a good one-handed save as the visitors continued to threaten.

The Hawks were living dangerously, and soon afterwards Roberts headed wide, before Williams drove the ball across the face of goal.

All that changed, however, 12 minutes before the interval when Roberts was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Perry Ryan.

And the Hawks needed just two minutes to break the deadlock after the restart.

Ryan delivered a deep-hanging corner and Oli got in front of the keeper to send a back-header dropping into the net.

The home side then tightened their grip five minutes later thanks to a superb strike from Atangana.

The French midfielder picked up a loose ball midway inside the Aldershot half, burst forward and crashed a 25-yard shot past the diving keeper.

It was a confident-looking Hawks now on show and Nanetti saw his 30-yard shot bounce back off the post.

Yet, Bevan still needed to be alert to protect the Hawks’ lead, with a magnificent near-post save from Bradley Bubb.

Substitute Przespolewski eased any doubt in the 71st minute with a superb finish to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.

Dan Blanchett lofted a ball over the top and the substitute sent a perfectly-judged lob over stranded keeper Glenn Morris.

It was turning into a rout, and within three minutes Ciardini fired an unstoppable 30-yard shot into the net.

Williams grabbed a late goal for the visitors from the penalty spot 10 minutes from the end. But it was nothing more than a consolation goal as the Hawks set up a derby date with Borough.

n Bognor will face Brighton in the Sussex Senior Cup quarter-finals after seeing off Sussex League side Eastbourne United 6-1 at Nyewood Lane.

Two goals apiece from Terry Dodd and Kane Wills, plus one each by Ollie Pearce and James Crane, saw the Rocks through to the last eight.