Hawks need to show they are tough enough against Hartlepool

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Boss Lee Bradbury wants to see the Hawks show they can muscle their way to clean sheets in the National League.

The wait for a first home win could be ended tomorrow when they face Hartlepool at Westleigh Park (3pm).

That would be a big lift for everyone after the 4-0 defeat at Bromley.

Bradbury knows his team have got the power to match bigger, stronger rivals in the National League this season. Now he wants them to show it.

He said: ‘It is vital we show a bit more steel and become harder to beat.

‘We were all disappointed by the result and with the performance at Bromley.

‘Our defending at set-pieces needs to improve.

‘In the last couple of seasons this is something we have prided ourselves with.

‘Now we have stepped up a level and we have to make sure our defending reflects that.

‘We have to get back to keeping clean sheets.’

Central defender Ed Harris missed the game at Bromley and remains a doubt.

Harris picked up a knee problem against Salford City.

His experience was a big miss for the Hawks in Kent and a contributory factor in the defeat.

Bradbury added: ‘We need to be careful with Ed because we don't want him out for longer than necessary.’

Hartlepool have won their past three games and will arrive on the south coast in a confident mood.

The Hawks boss is expecting it to be another real task as the big matches keep coming at this level.

It is another ambitious club who want to progress and move out of the National League but the Hawks have been the better side in matches at home.

He said: ‘Hartlepool are pushing to get back into the Football League.

‘They have got a good squad and are a well supported club.

‘We have to look upon it as an opportunity though to put things right.

‘To do that we will have to become a bit more streetwise.

‘We certainly can't afford to keep giving opponents a leg up in games.

‘Opponents don't give us any gifts so we have to also make them work harder to score against us.

‘We have got good physicality in our squad and have to make sure that we use it.’

The Hawks have drawn all three home games so far this season against Boreham Wood, AFC Fylde and Salford City.

Bradbury is keen to chalk up a first win in front of the home faithful.

He added: ‘It is important that we start turning our home draws into wins.’

The Hawks players have performed very well in front of the fans without getting what they fully deserved previously.