Hawks don't fear Ebbsfleet
The Hawks begin the defence of their Hampshire Senior Cup crown with a visit to Hartley Wintney tonight (7.30pm).
The hosts are currently top of the Cherry Red Combined Counties premier division – two levels below Lee Bradbury’s side.
The manager will be looking for another professional performance from his team – similar to the ones that have seen them progress to the third qualifying round of this season’s FA Cup.
So far this season, the Hawks have disposed of Sholing Sports and Highworth Town.
In the next round they have been drawn to meet Ebbsfleet away.
It’s a difficult tie but the team will believe they can cause an upset.
Bradbury said: ‘This is probably one of the toughest draws we could have got.
‘They are favourites to win Conference South and have a lot of good players.
‘It is not a game we will fear, though, and confidence is high in our camp after eight successive wins.
‘We will go there believing we can get a result.’
Striker Matt Paterson grabbed a hat-trick against Highworth on Saturday.
In the final game of last term, the former Gosport Borough front man came in for some criticism after a mistake allowed Weston-super-Mare to force a draw – which ultimately relegated the Hawks from National League South.
But Bradbury felt the criticism was unfair and praised the player for the way he has handled it and come back strongly this season.
‘It’s football and everyone makes mistakes,’ said Bradbury.
‘You just don’t let it dictate the future – and he hasn’t.
‘Matt has come back, shown terrific character, proving just what a good player he is.
‘His attitude has been fantastic and he has carried on working hard.
‘At this moment in time he is very confident going out on the pitch knowing he is going to score goals.
‘That is a fantastic place for a centre forward to be in.
‘He deserves it because he is an honest, hard-working player.
‘It wasn’t his one error that got us relegated.
‘As a team we made a lot of mistakes throughout the season – as a club and myself included.
‘It doesn’t come down to one last kick of the ball – more a combination of a lot of things.
‘Matt has been a different class.
‘Pre-season he has come in and done extra training and really got the bit between his teeth.
‘He is 6”3”, is quick, works hard and can finish.
‘The good thing is that he works well with all the other strikers we have.
‘Against Highworth he took all his goals well, staying on the front foot and that is what he is about.
‘He causes defenders problems with his pace and willingness to run in behind them.
‘You can’t put that in people and he is certainly not shy of putting the hard work in.’
Hawks: Young, Molyneaux, Medway, Woodford, Harris, Williams, Tarbuck, Robinson, Ridge, Stock, Swallow, Barker, Rutherford, Lewis, Hayter, Paterson, Walker-Harris