Hawks’ title credentials to undergo litmus test

Jason Prior was at the double for the Hawks in last week's win over Hungerford. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Jason Prior was at the double for the Hawks in last week's win over Hungerford. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
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The Hawks’ National League South title credentials will undergo the litmus test at Hemel Hempstead on Saturday (3pm).

Lee Bradbury’s side have propelled themselves into second in the table – just three points behind leaders Dartford with three games in hand.

The Westleigh Park boss feels his troops are showing a great stomach for the title fight.

It dovetails with the Hawks’ superb away record, having lost just twice on the road in the league this term.

Nevertheless, the Westleigh Park side face a difficult trip to the fifth-placed Tudors.

Although the hosts are winless in their past three games, Bradbury is expecting a close battle against Hemel Hempstead.

The reverse fixture ended a 1-1 draw back in November.

The Hawks boss said: ‘At this stage everyone is fit and that is important.

‘We have an important couple of weeks ahead of us, with games coming thick and fast.

‘Our squad isn’t massive but is full of quality.

‘This is another game that will test our resources.

‘Hemel are a good side with an experienced manager.

‘Situated where they are just outside London, they can attract players from a wide catchment area.

‘They are pushing for a play-off place and seem to get stronger each year.

‘We will need to go there with the same mindset of trying to win every game.’

The Hawks will be buoyed by Jason Prior’s return to the goal trail.

The striker fired a double in his side’s 2-0 win over Hungerford Town last weekend.

It ended a goal drought in the league that stretched back to November of last year.

The brace also took Prior’s goal tally in National League South to 15 for the season.

Bradbury is backing him to score 20-plus goals by the end of the campaign.

‘I have been pleased with Jason’s contribution all season,’ added the Westleigh Park chief.

‘He has been a focal point for us.

‘His latest two goals will boost his confidence and I am sure he will push on from here.’

For much of the season Prior has operated in a lone-striker role in away games and that’s unlikely to change on Saturday.

However, Bradbury has other forward options, with Matt Tubbs, Alfie Rutherford and James Hayter all available for selection.

The Hawks manager is keen to win the game at the Tudors.

However, at the same time not getting beat will also be an almost equal priority.