Boss Doswell ‘proud’ of his promotion-chasers after 10-man Hawks avoid defeat against Dulwich Hamlet
Paul Doswell was proud of the way Hawks battled against the odds to force a 0-0 National League South draw against Dulwich Hamlet at Westleigh Park.
For the second successive home game, they found themselves playing with ten men for a large part of the contest.
In midweek against Weymouth, it was half an hour after midfielder Bedsente Gomis was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
But on this occasion it was even longer.
The Hawks were left with a mountain to climb when centre half Simon Walton was shown a straight red four minutes before half-time.
Doswell re-organised at the interval, sending on Wes Fogden for Andy Drury, and this helped nullify the Dulwich threat.
In fact the Hawks could consider themselves unlucky not to come away with a win.
They were the better side in the second half and had some golden opportunities to take the lead.
Dulwich went close to snatching a late winner, but that would have been a case of daylight robbery.
'I am very proud of the way our players dealt with the numerical disadvantage,' said Doswell.
'Dulwich will be disappointed because they didn't really test us in the second half.
'I put Fogden on, went to two banks of four, and we dealt with them a lot better.
'In the second half we had three unbelievable chances with the pitch ruining two of them.
'To pick up four points from two games playing with ten men shows the real character in the team.
It was brilliant from the lads after the break.'
The Hawks looked distinctly off the pace in the opening 45 minutes and the visitors looked threatening.
On 20 minutes home goalkeeper Ross Worner kept his side on level terms with an acrobatic save to keep out a fierce 20-yard drive from Kieran Monlouis.
With the interval approaching, Drury was guilty of losing possession allowing striker Danny Mills to race clear.
Walton brought him down from behind on the edge of the area and, as the last defender, his red card was inevitable.
'We were all over the place in the first half,' said Doswell.
'The pitch didn't help because it was very soft and cut up badly.
'Every time we tried to pass the ball we gave it away and Dulwich were on us.
'Dulwich won all the battles and we looked leggy and old.
'The same players had put in a massive shift in midweek on a heavy pitch and that showed in our first half performance.
'Maybe as a management team we need to be a bit cleverer than this.
'But we changed it and got it right for the second half.
‘I was as proud of the team in the second half as I was with the way we held on against Weymouth.’
Few would have complained if the Hawks had snatched an unlikely win.
Danny Kedwell blasted wide from 12 yards and Jonah Ayunga had a fierce shot parried.
From the rebound Craig Robson, under pressure, somehow missed the target from point-blank range.
In stoppage-time Ben Chapman fired narrowly wide for Dulwich but, if they had scored, it would have been a dreadful injustice.
The draw allowed leaders Wealdstone to restore their eight-point advantage over the Hawks after a 3-0 home victory against Billericay Town.