Hawks ease relegation fears with vital victory
The Hawks put themselves back in the driving seat in the National League South relegation dogfight with a timely 1-0 win at Concord Rangers.
An early Ben Swallow goal proved enough to secure the Hawks a priceless three points.
It was only their second away win all season but it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Though the victory failed to lift the Hawks out of the bottom three, they have a game in hand on their two closest rivals immediately above them.
Margate (47 points), St Albans City (46) and the Hawks (45) are all battling to avoid the final relegation spot.
A win over Truro City on Thursday night will put the Hawks into pole position going into the final day of the season.
Manager Lee Bradbury admits there is work still to be done if the Hawks are to survive.
‘This is a massive result for us but the job is not done yet,’ said Bradbury.
‘We still have two big games ahead of us and everything can change on the final day of the season.
‘After the lows of losing 6-0 at St Albans last weekend this has given us a massive boost.
‘The players’ pride had been badly hurt and a magnifying glass had been on us all week.
‘It was a huge improvement and just what we needed.’
The Hawks got off to the perfect start with an early goal to settle their nerves.
Front man Shamir Mullings outmuscled his defender and crossed for Ben Swallow to sweep the ball home.
It was never going to be pretty on a difficult, uneven playing surface but after that the Hawks stuck manfully to their task.
Mullings became the focal point, working hard up front, as the Hawks made sure they cleared their lines.
Bradbury said: ‘Our early goal calmed us down because you could see the players were nervous.
‘After that, the focus was on keeping a clean sheet and to be fair goalkeeper Ryan Young only had one shot to save all game.
‘Having experienced defenders Warren Cummings and Brian Dutton back in made a big difference.
‘Our attitude was spot-on against a team who made it difficult by getting in our faces.
‘We made the better decisions in the game and stayed mentally and physically strong.’
The all-important win was plotted in midweek when the experienced players had a crisis meeting.
The trooped into the boardroom and discussed what could be done to change things around.
As a result, a coach and pre-match meal was laid on for the players.
‘We set out to make sure that we did everything right,’ said Bradbury.
‘Now we have to go out and do it all again in our final two games.’
Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Lewis, Dutton, Hill, Swallow, Donnelly (Mitchell 77), Mullings (Haran 86), Robinson, Barker (Paterson 73)