Shaun Gale hopes the Hawks’ Hampshire Senior Cup semi-final against AFC Totton at Westleigh Park tonight can provide a welcome distraction from their relegation worries.
With his side just two points above the Blue Square Bet South drop-zone, the Hawks boss might be forgiven for thinking it is a game his men could do without.
On the contrary, Gale believes if they win tonight and claim their place in the end-of-season final at Southampton’s home ground St Mary’s, it could give the Hawks the confidence boost they need, with 10 games left in the league.
‘The right result could help kick-start us in the league,’ said Gale.
‘We know we are in a dogfight to stay up and it is never nice when you are in that position.
‘It will be a big boost for the club if we can make the final at the end of the season but, of course, the priority is always going to be the league.
‘Winning is a habit, though, and if we can win the cup game then, hopefully, we can carry that mentality into the remaining league games.
Gale added: ‘I can’t ask for any more effort and commitment from my players but we are still very naive at times.
‘We are conceding far too many goals. If we can get that part of our game sorted out then we will be okay.
‘AFC Totton won’t be easy and they might look at our current position and fancy their chances of causing an upset.
‘They have some good, experienced players and will be just as keen to make the final.’
Gale has fitness doubts over a number of his squad but hopes most will be able to shake off their knocks.
Eddie Hutchinson (calf), Steve Ramsey (ankle), Chris Arthur (hip) and Sam Pearce (groin) are all receiving treatment but Chris Holland is almost certainly ruled out with knee problems.
Gale accepts the danger of picking up further injuries ahead of crucial league games is a risk he may be forced to take.
‘The complete change of scenery in the cup might help us in the long run,’ added Gale.
‘We know that we need to grind out results and if it has to be an ugly 1-0, then so be it.’
Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Dolan, Pearce, Woodford, Arthur, Ryan, Ramsey, Hopkinson, Igoe, Jones, Palmer, Hutchinson, Norton, Thompson, Hinshelwood, McDonald.