Ritchie keen to keep it clean

Hawks striker Ollie Palmer   Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks striker Ollie Palmer Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170972-31)

Bradbury hails his steely Hawks

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Hawks boss Stuart Ritchie has challenged his side to keep a clean sheet against Bath City in their Blue Square Bet South clash at Twerton Park (3pm).

Ritchie has been exasperated by some of the mistakes which have seen his side concede four goals in their opening two games of the season.

Thankfully for the Hawks the cavalry arrived in the shape of Ollie Palmer, with his stoppage-time goals rescuing points apiece against both Chelmsford and Truro.

But Ritchie doesn’t want to rely on his top-scorer for a third successive game.

‘We have let in some poor goals,’ he said.

‘It is essential that we tighten things up at the back and a clean sheet has to be the aim.

‘In both games to date, goals have been conceded straight after half-time and that’s been due to poor concentration on our part.

‘Generally, we have been punished for individual mistakes.

‘At this level, as soon as you switch off you get punished.

‘We gave Truro all three goals in midweek and again it left us chasing the game.

‘For the first we didn’t clear the ball when we had the chance and then Jake Newton and Chris Arthur made errors.’

Ritchie is convinced the Hawks could and should have won their first two games with the number of chances created.

Meanwhile, the Westleigh Park manager blamed the long coach journey to Truro for their slow start at Treyew Road.

‘I know it is an old cliche but we looked as though we were still on the coach for the first 35 minutes on Tuesday night,’ said Ritchie.

‘That put us on the back foot, but after that – just as against Chelmsford – we dominated most of the game.’

Palmer looks as if he’s regained the form shown early last season when he scored nine goals in as many games.

That brought him to the attention of clubs like Chelsea and Celtic, which caused him to lose his focus and go off the boil.

But Ritchie believes the youngster has learned from that.

‘The lad is keeping his head down and not blowing his own trumpet,’ said Ritchie.

‘He knows he needs to remain focused and to keep working at his game.

‘It is obvious he has worked hard in the gym and is more powerful as a result.

‘He has vowed to score 30 goals this season and the challenge now is to do it.’

Fellow striker Sahr Kabba is still suffering with a bruised hamstring but Ritchie is hoping he might feature in Monday’s derby against Eastleigh at Westleigh Park.

Hawks: Masters, Newton, Page, Harris, Arthur, Bailey, Hutchinson, Ramsey, Taggart, Nanetti, Palmer, Moss, Jones, Hinshelwood, Pearce, Whyte, Pegler