Bradbury: Prove what the Hawks means to you
Lee Bradbury needs a big performance from the Hawks as they take on relegation rivals Chelmsford City at Westleigh Park tonight (7.45pm).
It is crucial that the home side pick themselves up after throwing away a two-goal lead in their 3-2 defeat at Wealdstone on Saturday.
That latest away loss means the Hawks are just two points above the Vanarama National South relegation zone with five games left to play.
Tonight’s visitors from Essex are only four points better off than their hosts so there is a lot at stake for both teams.
With play-off-chasing Truro City at Westleigh Park on Saturday, it promises to be a defining week in the Hawks’ fight to stay up.
‘The players have to show me, the club and the fans just how much it means to them,’ said Bradbury.
‘I am looking for a big reaction after our disappointing defeat at Wealdstone.
‘The two home games this week are huge for us.
‘Our results away from home have been awful so it is even more important that we win our home games.
‘I am looking for six points and we must give it everything we have got.
‘It is so tight at the bottom of our league that six points will make a massive difference.
‘If we can achieve that then we might need just one more from our last three games.
‘But it is one step at a time, though, and we have to beat Chelmsford first.’
Bradbury was left hugely frustrated by the way his team capitulated in the closing stages at Wealdstone.
Goals from Scott Donnelly and James Hayter looked like putting them on course for a rare away win – only their second of the season.
Once the home side pulled a goal back, however, the Hawks panicked and fell apart defensively.
The goals they conceded were poor and stemmed from the side’s failure to clear their lines.
Bradbury knows they cannot afford a repeat against Chelmsford, who have shown they are an improving side in recent weeks.
‘We must be more solid defensively as a team,’ added the manager.
‘At Wealdstone we were not strong enough for long enough and it got a bit flakey towards the end.’
Bradbury can take encouragement from the fact his team have been better at home, winning their past two games at Westleigh Park.
He is likely to stick with the 4-4-2 formation that brought those wins, although he may consider a change in personel.
After the defensive malaise at the weekend, he could opt for greater experience at the back.
He has the option of moving Andy Robinson from the back four into his favoured position in midfield.
That would allow him to exploit the greater experience of either Brian Dutton, Warren Cummings and Lee Molyneaux. Dan Strugnell and James Haran are both injury doubts.
Hawks: Young, Dutton, Hill, Cummings, Molyneux, Stock, Robinson, Donnelly, Swallow, Hayter, Paterson, Barker, Medway, Mullings, Ciardini, Lewis, Mitchell, Strugnell, Haran
n Fans are reminded that next week’s Hampshire Senior Cup final against Winchester City at St Mary’s is an all-ticket affair.
Tickets must be purchased in advance and there will be no facilities for paying on the night.
Tickets are priced at £10 for adults and £5 concessions (over 65 and under 16 years of age).