‘Sharper’ Hawks ready for Newport County

Christian Nanetti. Picture: Dave Haines

Christian Nanetti. Picture: Dave Haines

Jordan Rose competing for the Hawks in the final at Fratton Park. Picture: Sarah Standing

Rose completes Hawks deal and targets more success

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Hawks are preparing for a stern pre-season test as they host Football League side Newport County at Westleigh Park tomorrow (3pm).

Manager Lee Bradbury feels the Welsh side – who earned promotion to League Two by winning the Conference National play-off final at Wembley last season – will give his men a serious examination.

Newport manager Justin Edinburgh has strengthened his squad since then.

Bradbury, though, was given a boost in midweek when Hawks broke their summer goalscoring duck, with Ryan Woodford’s late winner good enough to beat Salisbury City 1-0 at Westleigh Park.

‘I am expecting this to be a hard game for us,’ said Bradbury.

‘The Newport side contain a lot of quality players and their manager will have them well organised.

‘They are likely to be a fit, hard-working unit and will give us our toughest examination yet.

‘I was encouraged by our performance against Salisbury, though.

‘We kept the ball well, created the better chances and with some better decision making in the final third could have scored more.

‘The lads look brighter and sharper as we reach the halfway stage of our pre-season.’

Bradbury had three key players back in midweek – Ollie Palmer, Christian Nanetti and Ed Harris.

They all came through the workout in a positive fashion.

Palmer, in particular, looked sharp in the opening 45 minutes, giving the Salisbury defence plenty to think about.

He used his strength to create an excellent chance for midfielder Nic Ciardini before going close on a couple of occasions himself.

Bradbury is hoping Palmer can repeat his form from last season when he ended up as joint-top scorer in the Conference South.

Nanetti, back from the World Poker Championships in Las Vegas, was in lively mood as he tormented the Salisbury defence with mazy dribbles.

Harris looked solid when he came on in the second half and all three are expected to be involved against the Welshmen.

Another player in good nick is new keeper Scott Bevan who is looking confident and composed.

The veteran, who has been out with a wrist injury for a year, commanded his area well and pulled off a couple of good saves.

He looked a lot more assured and is getting better every game.

Midfielder Steve Ramsey remains doubtful for Saturday with a toe injury.

While youngster Joe Noakes is also working hard to get back to full fitness.

Triallist Serge Makofo has impressed Bradbury with his pace in the past couple of games.

The Hawks boss will continue to run the rule over the talented wing-man.

Former Bournemouth man Warren Cummings could figure again at full-back, although, the club insist he doesn’t currently fit into their plans.

‘I am still trying out a few ideas looking at different formations and personnel,’ said Bradbury.

‘It is a question of getting the balance between that and the fitness of the players right.

‘We have plenty of competition for places which is healthy.’

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