Bradbury's rlief as Hawks narrowly avoid FA Cup exit

Lee Bradbury admitted the Hawks had to dig deep to beat Merthyr Town 2-1 in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup at Westleigh Park.

Monday, 18th September 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 12:12 pm
Hawks striker Jason Prior in action against Merthyr Town. Picture: Habibur Rahman (171250-284)

The hosts had to tough it out against their Southern League premier division visitors before securing their place in today’s draw.

A poor opening 45 minutes left the Hawks trailing 1-0 – and facing an uphill struggle.

It was a different story after the break, though, when the Hawks took the game by the scruff of the neck.

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Boosted by the introduction of Wes Fogden, they levelled through Jason Prior.

James Hayter then hit the winner on 77 minutes – just seconds after joining the fray as a substitute.

‘Early on it looked like it was going to be a long day,’ said boss Bradbury.

‘We didn’t start well and conceded a very poor goal.

‘This allowed Merthyr to sit in and look to hit us on the counter-attack

‘They were a good little side who passed the ball well and had good patterns of play.

‘We had to show a bit of resolve and character to come out on top.

‘The main thing is we are in the hat for the next round.’

Merthyr rocked the Hawks by taking the lead in just the fourth minute.

Mo Touray crossed from the right and there were no defenders in sight when Ian Trayner stooped low to head past Ryan Young from six yards.

It took a while for the hosts to recover as they continued to struggle, particularly in midfield.

‘We never really grabbed the game in the first half,’ added Bradbury.

‘Merthyr were allowed to pick up far too many second balls.

‘I thought we were a lot better after we put Wes on for the second half.

‘His energy and ability to break forward through midfield gave us the spark that was needed.’

The Hawks put Merthyr under pressure from the very start of the second half and levelled on 53 minutes.

Alfie Rutherford crossed from the right and Prior slid in to score.

An inspired 77th-minute change led to the second goal.

Hayter replaced Rutherford and with his first touch, the ex-Bournemouth forward headed in from a corner.

‘I’d just said we needed another goalscorer on the pitch,’ said Bradbury.

‘James does attack things well from wide areas and it was a dream substitution – which is nice when it comes off.’

Hawks: Young, Rose, Woodford, Harris, Williams, Stock, Lewis (Carter, 79mins), Tarbuck, Barker (Fogden, 46mins), Rutherford (Hayter, 77mins), Prior. Att: 296