A hOME fixture against Hampton & Richmond Borough tonight will be the last thing a jaded-looking Hawks side will need after their 1-0 defeat at Boreham Wood on Saturday.
Shaun Gale’s men play their second Blue Square South game in three days as the West Leigh Park side attempt to play catch-up on their rivals after a number of cancellations over the winter.
But they will need an injection of energy and adrenaline after paying the price for a lacklustre performance against relegation-battling Boreham Wood at Meadow Park.
Fatigue was always going to be the Hawks’ biggest enemy in their hectic run-in to the season – and so it proved in a mistake-ridden game.
The home side, without a goal in 360 minutes of football, took just nine minutes to break through the Hawks defence when Greg Morgan was allowed the time and space on the edge of the area to fire into the far corner.
After that, both teams huffed and puffed in the sunshine but created very little in a poor spectacle.
Home goalkeeper Elvijs Putnin didn’t have a save to make all afternoon as the Hawks were guilty of producing probably their poorest performance of the season.
‘We could have been there all night and still not scored,’ moaned a massively-disappointed Gale.
‘It would have needed us to do something unbelievable to score and that didn’t look likely.
‘We were poor and it was probably a bridge too far for the players on Saturday.
‘The quality and the energy we have had in the team all season wasn’t there and we were flat.
‘It was a tired, tired performance and we just didn’t have it in us.’
The hard, bobbly pitch didn’t help either side but the visitors had the upper hand in the opening exchanges, during which time Steve Ramsey had a shot deflected over the bar.
The home side, though, broke out in devastating fashion with an excellent counter-attack down the right flank.
The ball was transferred quickly to Morgan, and though the defence got back, he worked the space to fire in off the far post.
After that the Hawks wilted in the sunshine.
‘It was a soft goal to give them in their first attack,’ said Gale.
‘We are renowned for our work-rate and closing opponents down but it didn’t happen and it was one of our poorest performances of the season without a doubt.
‘We failed to get the ball down and didn’t pass it well enough.
‘Their goalkeeper has had nothing to do all afternoon.
‘Even in the second half when we dominated possession we still gave it away too cheaply.’
Midway through the first half, the visitors were forced to replace goalkeeper Aaron Howe, who came off with a thigh strain, with Nathan Ashmore.
And minutes later Ramsey missed the Hawks’ best chance of the afternoon.
Skipper Ian Simpemba headed down a free-kick inside the Boreham area and the unmarked Ramsey hooked his shot on the turn past the far upright.
The second 45 minutes were even poorer and Gale’s final attempt to salvage something from the game – sending on striker Liam Sewell for defender Sam Pearce for the last 14 minutes – failed to provide dividends.
‘The players know that it wasn’t good enough and they know what we expect,’ said Gale.
‘They have to be professional and pick themselves up and carry on for the last six games.
‘We have been hindered massively by the enormous number of games we have had to play in a short space of time.
‘They still have to go out there and pick up as many points as possible.
‘Tonight’s game with Hampton & Richmond at West Leigh Park will come around very quickly and I have to look, maybe, where I can freshen things up a little bit.
‘We need to do that because there were some tired bodies out there on Saturday.’
Hawks: Howe 6 (Ashmore 7; 30m), Newton 7, Hinshelwood 6, Selley 6 (Tiryaki 6; 55m) , Pearce 7 (Sewell 6; 76m), Simpemba 7, Fogden 6, Ramsey 6, Williams 5, Sole 6, Igoe 6.