Hawks ace Wright could miss Charlton FA Cup tie if appeal against Slough red card fails

Tommy Wright could miss Hawks’ glamour FA Cup trip to Charlton Athletic if an appeal against his weekend red card fails.

By Simon Carter
Monday, 25th October 2021, 11:45 am
Tommy Wright talks to referee Dean Skipper during Hawks' National League South loss to Slough - Wright was later sent off. Picture: Martyn White
Tommy Wright talks to referee Dean Skipper during Hawks' National League South loss to Slough - Wright was later sent off. Picture: Martyn White

The striker is in line for a three-match suspension if the FA deem his sending off against Slough Town as serious foul play.

Wright was controversially dismissed in the 77th minute of Hawks’ 2-1 National League South home loss.

Referee Dean Skipper showed Wright a straight red for a challenge on Jon North which left the Rebels keeper clutching his head.

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But video evidence shows Wright went for the ball in a 50-50 challenge and never made contact with North’s head.

Wright is available for tomorrow’s NLS trip to Hungerford as all National League suspensions don’t start until seven days after the offence took place.

The club will discover later in the week whether Wright’s appeal has been successful. If not, he faces being banned for league games at Chelmsford and Tonbridge as well as the FA Cup trip to Charlton.

Hawks had a poor disciplinary record last season, but Wright was the first player dismissed in 13 league and cup matches in 2021/22.

Midfielder Oscar Gobern missed the Slough loss through a one-game suspension awarded for collecting five bookings.

Billy Clifford is walking a disciplinary tightrope having been booked four times this season. But even if he picks up another caution in the next two games, he won’t miss the FA Cup tie at The Valley.

As well as deciding whether to bring Gobern straight back into the starting XI at Hungerford - quite likely given his performances against Torquay in the FA Cup - Hawks boss Paul Doswell must decide whether to make any defensive changes.

Hawks have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 league and FA Cup ties, and Doswell is getting increasingly concerned about his side’s defensive record.

Since the start of last season, Hawks have only kept three clean sheets in 22 league outings - totally at odds with the defensive records of Doswell’s previous teams in the sixth tier.

His Sutton side kept 21 clean sheets in 42 games in winning the NL South title in 2015/16, conceding just 32 goals in all. And in 2019/20, Ross Worner only conceded 37 goals in 34 league games - keeping six clean sheets in his last 10 matches prior to the season being ended early due to the pandemic.

Hawks have started most games with a 3-5-2 formation this term, but Doswell changed it to a 4-3-3 after 25 minutes against Slough - hauling off Crawley loanee Manny Adebowale and bringing on striker Scott Rendell to add height to a forward line containing Wright and James Roberts.

If Doswell wants to remain 3-5-2, player coach Jamie Collins is another option, having started against Concord Rangers and Torquay (away) in a three-man central defensive unit alongside skipper Joe Oastler and Sam Magri.

Hawks have recorded fine league wins at Hampton & Richmond and Ebbsfleet this term, as well as producing a superb display to dump higher tier Torquay out of the FA Cup.

But they have lost games they would have been expected to get points in - at Chippenham and at home to Oxford City and Slough, the latest loss dropping them to 13th in the table.

It is a trend Hawks need to arrest soon, with three successive away league games at Hungerford (10th), Chelmsford (16th) and Tonbridge (14th).

Hungerford are fresh from a 4-1 romp at Concord Rangers, having previously beaten Braintree 2-1 at home. Back in August they also claimed a shock 2-1 win at pre-season title favourites Dorking.

Striker Ryan Seager - on loan to Hawks in 2019/20 - and Soloman Wanjau-Smith both netted twice at Concord Rangers.

Former Southampton Academy product Seager is proven at NL South level - he scored twice when Hungerford lost 4-2 at Westleigh Park last January - but Wanjau-Smith is in his first sixth tier campaign.

He was signed in the summer from Slimbridge, who play two tiers lower in Division 1 South of the Southern League. Prior to that, he was with Bristolians Cribbs at the same level as the Wessex League Premier Division.

Meanwhile, for those Hawks fans who appreciate dark humour, Skipper is tonight the main speaker at the monthly Thurrock Referees Association meeting in Essex. The topic - ‘Match Changing Decisions’ ...

*Charlton have slashed ticket prices for their FA Cup tie with Hawks on Saturday, November 6 Tickets are £10 (adults) and £5 (concessions) - compared to over £20 for League 1 games at the stadium.

Hawks fans will be seated in the Jimmy Seed Stand behind one of the goals.