Bradbury: Hawks can handle the pressure

Hawks defender Josh Hill, right    Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Hawks defender Josh Hill, right Picture: Ian Hargreaves
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Lee Bradbury is backing the Hawks to handle the pressure of their National League South relegation clash against Basingstoke Town at Westleigh Park (3pm).

He believes his team can come out on top and haul themselves off the bottom above their Hampshire rivals.

‘It is a game both teams will be desperate to get something out of,’ said Bradbury.

‘We are the home team so at the end of the day we want to come away winning the game.

‘That will give us the lift needed to go on and win the games we have in hand on the clubs in and around us.

‘If we do that then we can start to put a bit of distance between us and them.

‘It is a pressure game but both teams have got good experience in their ranks.

‘There probably isn’t two more experienced midfields in our league.

‘That experience could prove vital on the day, keeping everybody calm and focused on the game.

‘The surprising thing is where we both find ourselves after making the play-offs last season.

‘I honestly believe both teams will pull away from trouble and finish up in mid-table come the end of the season.’

The Hawks already boast an FA Trophy win over the Dragons at Westleigh Park before Christmas.

Goals from James Hayter and Ben Swallow saw them through 2-1, although it was a typically tight affair between the two teams.

It will be an ideal opportunity for the home side to record their first clean sheet in the league since early September.

Until recently, the Hawks defence has looked flimsy, but the arrival of Josh Hill on loan from Boreham Wood has made a huge difference.

He has given Bradbury’s team a lot more steel in the heart of the back four and the side now looks far more secure.

‘Against Welling we defended well, apart from one occasion when we conceded,’ added Bradbury.

‘Harry Medway switched off for a second, lost his man, and we paid the price for it.

‘As a defensive pairing, Josh Hill and Brian Dutton looked very solid together.

‘Josh is a big lad, wants to compete and has provided us with a presence back there.

‘He wins his battles and has given us greater solidarity.

‘Last season he was promoted with Boreham Wood and knows what it takes to be in a successful side.’

Last weekend’s match-winner, Shamir Mullings, will be hoping he gets a continued run up front.

Swallow is another player who may feel he deserves a recall.

He set up the winning goal against Welling last Saturday, within a minute of going on as a substitute.

His decider – a stunning strike – against the Dragons in the first meeting between the two teams may also count in his favour.

Hawks: Young, Medway, Dutton, Hill, Strugnell, Whatmough, Lewis, Stock, Donnelly, Swallow, Ciardini, Mullings, Hayter, Paterson, Cummings, Blanchett, Molyneaux, Morgan, Thomson