Pope calls for unity after Gale departure

Steve Johnson, right, is expected to take temporary charge after Shaun Gale left Westleigh Park. Picture: Dave Haines
Steve Johnson, right, is expected to take temporary charge after Shaun Gale left Westleigh Park. Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170972-31)

Bradbury hails his steely Hawks

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Derek Pope has called on the Hawks to pull together after Shaun Gale left Westleigh Park.

The chairman of the Blue Square Bet South strugglers announced the manager’s departure yesterday.

The 3-2 defeat at Basingstoke Town had left Gale with just six matches to lift his side to safety.

However, the Camrose loss – which saw the Hawks slide into the bottom three – proved the final straw and prompted crunch talks between Pope and the former Pompey defender.

And with just one win in the past 13 league matches, the two parties decided to go their separate ways.

While the timing is not ideal, Pope reckons it is the right move.

‘Maybe it is something that should have been done a little while ago but this situation can’t go on,’ said the chairman.

‘We feel Shaun can’t do anymore and by intervening it can’t get any worse. It has not been easy because I have known Shaun for a long time.

‘But we have reached a point where we feel a need to move on.

‘Shaun has done a good job at the club over the years and we would like to thank him for all he has achieved here.

‘It is important we all pull together in the last couple of weeks.

‘And that starts in the friendly against AFC Bournemouth tomorrow and in the league at Truro next weekend.’

The News understands the Hawks want Gale’s assistant manager Steve Johnson to take the helm for the rest of the season before the search for a new boss begins in earnest. Johnson’s first task will be to pick the troops up for a crucial climax to the campaign.

An inept first-half performance at Basingstoke has left the Hawks deep in relegation danger.

One of Gale’s final acts as manager was to deploy Pompey youngster Dan Thompson in midfield – replacing the suspended Perry Ryan.

And sadly the experiment proved to be a huge failure.

The youngster looked out of his depth and was substituted at the break with the Hawks staring down the barrel at 2-0 down.

Jide Ogunbote opened the scoring for Basingstoke before Joe Dolan could only deflect Matt Warner’s shot home shortly after the half-hour mark. And any hopes of a fightback were killed off 10 minutes into the second half when Hawks goalkeeper Lyall Beazley let a hopeful Nathan Smart shot through his legs.

The impressive Christian Nanetti pulled one goal back with a superb free-kick.

And Ollie Palmer went on the find the net for the visitors deep into stoppage-time.

But it was too little, too late to make any difference and effectively sealed Gale’s departure.

Gale took over the Westleigh Park reins 10 games into the 2007-08 season following the sudden departure of Ian Baird to south coast neighbours Eastleigh. He tasted immediate success, too, as the Hawks embarked on an astonishing FA Cup run. Their Cup dreams were only killed off in a thrilling fourth-round tie against Premier League giants Liverpool at Anfield.

The following season Gale took the Hawks to the first round proper again – making their first-ever live television appearance against Brentford.

League success continued to elude Gale’s Hawks, though.

In the past two campaigns they have found it increasingly difficult to compete at Blue Square Bet South level.

Behind the scenes Gale has been a tireless worker for the Hawks.

And he was responsible for setting up the highly successful Community Scheme in 2008.

Hawks: Beazley 6; Newton 7, Arthur 6, Thompson 5 (Hinshelwood, 46mins – 6), Dolan 6, Pearce 6 (Woodford, 67mins – 7), Hutchinson 6 (Igoe 79mins), Ramsey 7, Jones 6, Palmer 6, Nanetti 8. Att: 481.