Hawks discipline key to derby success

On-loan Pompey defender Jack Whatmough
On-loan Pompey defender Jack Whatmough
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Lee Bradbury knows the Hawks must beat Gosport Borough in tonight’s derby at Westleigh Park if they are to climb out of the bottom three in National League South (7.45pm).

With the visitors also keen to take maximum points to consolidate their position in the play-off places, another keen contest lies in wait.

The home side also have the incentive of exacting revenge for their 2-1 Boxing Day defeat at Privett Park.

Bradbury insisted if his side can display the determination and application shown in their FA Trophy defeat at Grimsby on Saturday they can come away with the points.

‘This is a big game for both teams, with vital points at stake, if for different reasons,’ said the Hawks boss.

‘It is a game that neither team will want to lose, with the added spice of it being a local derby.

‘I am expecting it to be a typical local derby, with two hardworking teams playing at a good tempo.

‘Games between us are usually close-fought affairs with little between the two sides.

‘Gosport will come and make it hard for us to break them down so we may have to be patient with the way we go about things.’

It is certain to be a big test for the Hawks’ central-defensive pairing of Josh Hill and Jack Whatmough as they bid to shackle Borough striker Justin Bennett.

The league’s leading goalscorer added another two to his tally in Borough’s 2-1 win over Maidenhead United at the weekend and is back in form.

Fellow striker Lee Wort has also found his goalscoring touch following his return from a loan spell at Poole Town.

The duo are bound to provide Hill and Whatmough with a severe examination.

Both loanee defenders, however, have impressed since joining from Boreham Wood and Pompey respectively – and Bradbury has every faith in them.

‘Defensively, we have looked sound, with our two central defenders starting to form an excellent partnership,’ said Bradbury.

‘At Grimsby they kept two very good strikers quiet for almost all the game.

‘Their final two goals only came when we were pushing forward chasing the game.’

The Hawks felt a little hard done by to lose their Boxing Day encounter at Borough and were also aggrieved to have captain Brian Stock sent off late in the game.

Bradbury is impressing on his players the importance of discipline on the night.

‘The first game was a meaty affair at times – and quite rightly so as long as it is done in the right way,’ added the Westleigh Park manager.

‘Players expect to be competitive and more so in local derbies where a lot of them know each other well.

‘Discipline will play a key part and that is an area where we have got a lot better.

‘I expect my players to remain cool, calm and collective and to remain focused on playing their football.’

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