Bradbury: Hawks stronger than when we reached FA Trophy semi-final

Lee Bradbury is adamant the Hawks have more strength in depth than when his side reached the FA Trophy semi-finals three years ago.

Thursday, 23rd November 2017, 4:46 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 9:18 pm
The Hawks suffered FA Trophy semi-final heartbreak against Gosport Borough in 2014. Picture: Paul Jacobs

The Westleigh Park outfit begin the road to Wembley at home against Dorking Wanderers in the third-qualifying round of the competition on Saturday (3pm).

Bradbury’s troops went within a whisker of reaching the final of the Trophy in 2014.

However, they suffered last-four heartbreak against rivals Gosport Borough, losing 3-1 over the two legs.

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The Hawks manager believes his players may never get a better chance of reaching Wembley in their careers.

The experienced Rory Williams was part of the Borough side who were defeated 4-0 by Cambridge United in the final.

Bradbury said: ‘We got to the semi-finals a few years ago and I believe we have a better squad now than then.

‘For all non-league players, the FA Trophy offers a unique experience.

‘They will never have a better chance in their career of playing at Wembley.

‘Some of our players experienced it with Gosport and would love to replicate it.’

The Hawks have rued a dismal record at Westleigh Park this season.

They dropped two points against Chelmsford in National League South on Tuesday night.

Despite being in control for the majority Bradbury’s men paid the price for not killing off the game and conceded a stoppage-time equaliser.

Ryman League premier division outfit Dorking will be eyeing up an FA Trophy upset.

Bradbury believes the tie can help the Hawks’ home form – but he insisted his side are not underestimating their opponents.

‘I am looking for us to buck the trend of recent home games,’ the Hawks boss added.

‘In those, we have performed well but ended up giving away late goals which have cost us.

‘We won’t be taking Dorking lightly because they showed in the last round they can be a threat.

‘They beat Leiston 4-1 and we know how tough they can be from last season in the Ryman League.’

Mike Carter and Ed Harris miss the tie through suspension.

The Hawks manager believes those who replace the duo must grab their chance and make a statement for a starting berth.

‘Having two players missing means others will get the chance to show what they can do,’ said Bradbury.

‘Away from the pressure of league points it may offer players a little more freedom.

‘Having said that, we will be approach the game the same as we do every other one because it is important.

‘We will 100 per cent be going out to win it.’