Bradbury: Hawks can thrive on Oxford’s 3G surface

Theo Lewis. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Theo Lewis. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Hawks scorer Jason Prior

Hawks soar to the top after win

Hawks midfielder Brian Stock. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (181103-1)

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Lee Bradbury is confident the Hawks can thrive on Oxford City’s 3G pitch when the two sides meet in National League South on Saturday.

Another away win will see the Westleigh Park outfit crank up the pressure on league leaders Dartford.

Bradbury’s side sit second in the table, but are just two points behind the Tunnellers with two games in hand.

If Dartford slip up against Poole Town then a Hawks victory would take them summit of the division.

Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain is currently on loan at City from Pompey, while former Hawks striker Matt Paterson is also at Marsh Lane.

But Bradbury is confident his troops can pass the test on the artificial surface with flying colours.

‘We have an excellent away record and have done well up to now playing on 3G pitches,’ said the boss.

‘The surface allows us to get the ball down and play our football.

‘There can be no excuses because we train on a similar surface every week.

‘Oxford showed at our place, though, they can be dangerous opponents.

‘They are in good form at the moment, with three very good wins behind them.

‘They are one of the best teams in the division going forward that we have come across.

‘Their attackers are very quick and skilful.

‘We know all about Matt Paterson, who was with us last season.

‘He is on fire this season, scoring something like 15 goals.

‘Defensively, we have been good and must look to keep that going.’

The Hawks have lost only twice on the road in the league this term.

A key factor behind their impressive away form has been their solid midfield unit.

The experience of Brian Stock has dovetailed with the energy of Wes Fogden.

Meanwhile, after a slow start to the campaign, Theo Lewis is looking back to his best.

Although he’s not the tallest, he has a knack of scoring headers.

Last season he netted 15 goals and Bradbury feels Lewis is starting to recapture that form.

‘Theo was a little bit frustrated with himself at the start of the season because the goals weren’t coming so regularly,’ added the Hawks manager.

‘Now he is starting to become a little more relaxed and you can see his confidence is coming back.

‘He is very good at finding a bit of space in the opponents area and has great timing.

‘Defenders tend to concentrate on the more physical presence of players like Jason Prior, Ryan Woodford, Ed Harris and Jordan Rose.’

Mike Carter is an injury doubt for the Hawks.