Hawks out of drop zone after late double drama

Hawks striker Shamir Mullings  Picture: Paul Jacobs
Hawks striker Shamir Mullings Picture: Paul Jacobs
Lee Bradbury, left, and Paul Robinson.

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The Hawks hauled themselves out of the National League South relegation zone with a remarkable 2-1 win over Maidstone United at Westleigh Park.

In a dramatic finale, the visitors were reduced to 10 men and the Hawks struck twice in stoppage-time to snatch the points.

Josh Hill and Shamir Mullings scored to complete an amazing turnaround.

Lee Bradbury praised the never-say-die spirit of his players as they engineered their great escape.

‘It was fantastic because once Maidstone got their noses in front we feared the worst,’ said Bradbury.

‘They have won a lot of games 1-0 away from home and this looked like being another one.

‘Our spirit is great, though, and the players have to take credit for putting a shift in right to the end.

‘To get back level was great and to go on and win it in the final minute was brilliant.

‘That is the spirit that we are going to need for the rest of the season.

‘It has lifted us out of the bottom three and hopefully we won’t look back now.’

The Hawks slightly edged the opening 45 minutes, playing with a strong breeze at their backs on a difficult playing surface.

Once again, however, they were guilty of failing to take their chances as the half ended goalless.

Mullings and Hill both missed clear-cut openings and the Hawks paid the price when they fell behind on the hour mark.

A corner was headed on and Callum Davies poked the ball in at the far post.

Maidstone looked comfortable after that, until substitute Dan Sweeney was sent off four minutes from the end for dissent.

When the referee indicated there were four minutes of stoppage-time, the hosts pushed forward sensing there might be something in it for them.

Nic Ciardini crossed from the right and central-defender Hill rose unmarked to glide his header into the far corner to level matters.

Almost immediately the Hawks attacked again, this time Ciardini crossing from the left.

Substitute Matt Paterson got the all-important header on and Mullings arrived to crash home at the far post.

Bradbury said: ‘It is a massive win for us after staring down the barrel of a defeat.

‘I thought we played well enough throughout to deserve it.’

The home side gave debuts to both their new loan signings from Queens Park Rangers, Aaron Mitchell and James Haran.

Midfielder Mitchell started the game and Haran went on as a second half substitute.

Both made significant contributions and look useful additions to the squad.

‘I was pleased with both newcomers because they only signed late on Friday afternoon,’ added Bradbury.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Medway (Paterson 82), Stock, Molyneaux (Haran 64), Hill, Swallow, Donnelly, Mullins, Ciardini, Mitchell (Hayter 64)

Att: 835