Prior at the double as Hawks go top

Jason Prior. Picture: Mick Young (161167-14)
Jason Prior. Picture: Mick Young (161167-14)
Scott Hamilton scores Fareham's second goal. Picture: Neil Marshall (171158-8)

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The Hawks came through a bruising affair to win 2-0 at Billericay Town and go top of the Ryman League premier division.

Jason Prior scored two penalties in the first half to decide the contest.

Hawks boss Lee Bradbury switched to five at the back as he recalled Ed Harris, Matt Paterson and Wes Fogden for Ben Swallow, George Barker and Alfie Rutherford.

And the move paid off, as his side recorded a second victory over the Essex outfit in four days.

‘Make no bones about it, this is an excellent win away from home,’ said Bradbury.

‘Billericay had won their last nine home league games on the bounce.

‘So to win here and go top of the league means a lot to us.

‘It is great to be top but the hard part is battling to make sure we stay there.

‘This is where we want to be at the end of the season.

‘I changed the formation because we knew it would be a different game in a different environment to Saturday.

‘It is the sort of place where players need to stand up and be counted.

‘I felt we did that with all of them putting their bodies on the line.

‘We showed a lot of courage, bravery and that extra bit of quality in the attacking third.

‘The players stuck to our game plan and the manner of the win is most pleasing. This time last year we wouldn’t have been able to do this.’

Skipper Brian Stock had to make do with a place on the substitutes’ bench after serving a one-match ban.

The game opened in dramatic fashion as the Hawks were awarded a second-minute penalty.

Wes Fogden latched on to a long clearance from keeper Ryan Young and was brought down as he burst into the Billericay area.

Prior made no mistake with his spot-kick – smashing it straight down the middle to give the visitors a dream start.

It was the striker’s third penalty in two consecutive games against the Essex opponents.

Billericay, who lost 5-0 to the Hawks in the FA Trophy on Saturday, looked to respond – as dangerous balls flew across the visitors’ six-yard area.

But seven minutes before the break the Hawks were awarded a second penalty when Paterson was felled as he looked to seize on a loose ball in the area.

Once again, Prior made no mistake with another immaculate finish.

Shortly after the break, Prior was denied by a last-ditch tackle and then volleyed over as he eyed a hat-trick.

On 69 minutes, the visitors sent on the experienced figure of Stock in a bid to see the game out.

The Hawks were forced to dig deep as they came under heavy pressure.

But they did enough, even threatening a third on the counter-attack.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Williams, Woodford, Molyneaux, Harris, Lewis, Robinson, Prior, Fogden, Paterson, Prior. Subs: Rutherford, Swallow, Barker, Stock, Hayter