Hawks ruffle Stortford feathers with late call

Hawks defender Josh Hill, centre, has extended his loan from Boreham Wood until the end of the season   Picture: Paul Jacobs
Hawks defender Josh Hill, centre, has extended his loan from Boreham Wood until the end of the season Picture: Paul Jacobs
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The Hawks were met by an irate Bishop’s Stortford manager Rod Stringer after a late decision to call off their National League South fixture at Westleigh Park.

The game was postponed an hour and 15 minutes before kick-off last night due to a waterlogged pitch – just before the visitors had completed their journey from Hertfordshire.

The away side were greeted with the news upon their arrival.

That led to Stringer confronting Hawks officials, including boss Lee Bradbury, over the lateness of the call, which came after the pitch had passed an initial inspection earlier in the day.

Among his tirade directed at the hosts, Stringer accused the Hawks of ‘mugging him and his team off’ by forcing them to spend three hours on a coach for a game ‘that was never going to take place’.

The heated exchange lasted the best part of five minutes, before Stringer and his assistant made their way back to their coach for an earlier-than-expected departure.

Bradbury, who maintained his composure in the face of provocation, declined to comment on his opposite number’s behaviour but admitted he was equally frustrated the game didn’t go ahead.

‘We wanted to play, particularly after beating Basingstoke Town on Saturday,’ he said.

‘The covers were put on the pitch immediately after that game to protect it against the weather.

‘For the last 48 hours we have had volunteers at the ground using super soakers on areas of the pitch.

‘It passed a pitch inspection earlier in the day and we didn’t start taking the covers off until 5.15pm.

‘Unfortunately, the rain in the four hours before the game had seeped under the covers in one area.

‘In the referee’s eyes that made it unsafe to play on.’

To compound problems, the match official didn’t arrive until late because of traffic problems on the M27.

He turned up to find half the pitch still covered and it didn’t take him long to make his decision.

‘It is very frustrating because we viewed it as an opportunity to keep our momentum going,’ said Bradbury.

‘We feel we are starting to turn the corner and believed this to be a very winnable game.

‘If we had won last night, it would have taken us out of the bottom three.

‘Psychologically that could have given us all a lift.

‘We are in a lot more confident mood than we were three weeks ago.

‘It is important to move on and concentrate on going to Maidenhead on Saturday.’

Meanwhile, the Hawks have announced that Boreham Wood loanee defender Josh Hill will be staying until the end of the season.

The 24-year-old has made a big difference to the Hawks at the back and helped give them a solidity they have lacked for most of the season.

Elsewhere, the weather also wiped out the rest of the local non-league football programme last night.

The derby between AFC Portchester and Fareham Town was called off after Wicor Rec failed a 5pm pitch inspection.

The Hampshire Senior Cup tie between Totton & Eling and Horndean was postponed for a seventh time.

Bognor saw their Sussex Senior Cup quarter-final with Burgess Hill washed out and Moneyfields’ Russell-Cotes Cup clash with Otterbourne was also a victim of the weather.