Pressure mounts but Gale keeps the faith

Hawks boss Shaun Gale  Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks boss Shaun Gale Picture: Dave Haines
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The pressure is mounting on Shaun Gale as the Hawks look to halt their freefall at second-placed Dartford (3pm).

Gale’s side are just one point above the Blue Square Bet South drop zone and desperate to avoid falling into the bottom three.

The Hawks have won just two of their past 12 league games, conceding 32 goals in the process.

And coming up against a Dartford side who have a goal-scoring tally of 71 this season – making them the division’s leading scorers – a trip to Princes Park is probably the last thing Gale needs.

Matters went from bad to worse on Tuesday night when Gale saw his strugglers knocked out of the Hampshire Senior Cup by Southern League AFC Totton.

But Gale hopes the Hawks’ exit from the competition will be the wake-up call they so desperately need to turn their league form around.

And he’s refusing to throw in the towel as he endures the toughest spell of his Hawks managerial reign.

‘Our position is a horrible one but it is still one we can get ourselves out of,’ said Gale. ‘We need to turn the corner quickly, though, and I have every faith we can do it.

‘The defeat in midweek was a big blow and a kick in the teeth. I am hoping it will put more fire in the belly of the players.

‘The bottom line is we keep conceding poor goals and that has to stop.

‘Week in, week out, we keep making the same mistakes.

‘Until now my teams have always been hard to beat and it is frustrating.

‘Sometimes the situation gets into players’ heads and it is something we have to change.

‘The time for talking is over and we need people to do their jobs for 90-plus minutes.

‘We have shown at times this season that we are a good side and capable of doing that.’

Gale has a number of injury concerns ahead of the trip, with new midfielder Eddie Hutchinson the main worry.

Hutchinson was named as a substitute against AFC Totton, but a back problem prevented him from joining the action – and could rule him out completely tomorrow.

Central-defender Joe Dolan was in a similar position but Gale is optimistic he can shrug off his injury.

Gale is hoping Steve Ramsey, Scott Jones, Ollie Palmer and Chris Arthur will also be fit for purpose, despite playing in the Hampshire Senior Cup with niggling injuries.

Defender Chris Holland is almost certain to be ruled out, though, with a knee problem.

The Hawks will need to be at their best as the hosts already boast a 4-1 win over them at the start of the year.

Second-placed Dartford are easily the best side to have come to Westleigh Park this season and, on the day, the final scoreline could have been six or seven.

Gale knows his side will have their work cut out.

‘We need to get at least a point from the game,’ he added.

Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Dolan, Pearce, Woodford, Arthur, Ramsey, Ryan, Hopkinson, Igoe, Hutchinson, Palmer, Jones, Hinshelwood, McDonald, Norton

n Former Hawks striker Lee Peacock has joined Blue Square Bet South rivals Eastleigh after leaving Westleigh Park in January.