Hawks suffer relegation heartbreak
Lee Bradbury admitted it was a dark day for him and the club as the Hawks were relegated from National League South.
Needing a win that would have kept them up, the Hawks could only manage a 1-1 draw against Weston-super-Mare at Westleigh Park.
Most galling was the fact that until 20 minutes from the end the hosts were leading and looking like they would stay up.
Then a poor mistake led to the Seagulls equalising, and although closest rivals Margate lost 2-0 at Bath City, it was to prove enough to send the Hawks down on goal difference.
Breadbury’s side will now play their football next season in the Ryman or Southern League premier divisions.
It is a massive blow for the club, who started the campaign with ambitions of promotion to the National League.
‘It is heartbreaking for everyone and I am gutted for this football club,’ said Bradbury.
‘This is not something that I am proud of and the first time I have been relegated.
‘I even find it difficult to say that word.
‘It is disappointing that though our fate has been in our own hands for the last couple of games we have not managed to get the points we needed.
‘As a group we have not been ruthless or good enough.
‘A combination of not being able to keep clean sheets and lack of goals has been a recipe for disaster.’
Knowing they needed a win to stand any chance of avoiding relegation the Hawks started the game in a determined fashion.
It was no more than they deserved when they took a 17th-minute lead through recalled striker James Hayter.
Livewire Ben Swallow crossed from the right and Hayter got in front of his defender to guide a clever header into the net.
The hosts, however, paid a heavy price for failing to push home their advantage when they gifted the Seagulls their equaliser.
Forward Matt Paterson had the chance to clear his lines inside the area but inexplicably tried to beat his opponent.
He lost possession and from the resulting cross Scott Wilson turned the ball into the net at the far post.
That put the Hawks back in the relegation spot and everything after that smacked of desperation.
‘We got ourselves into a winning position and should have cleared the ball,’ said Bradbury.
‘But that has been us in a nutshell all season.
‘When the going got tough as a side we retreated into our shells too much.
‘We didn’t do enough week in, week out and paid the ultimate price.
‘It is an absolute joke really that with the quality we have in our dressing room that we are going down.’
Hawks: Young, Strugnell. Hill, Molyneaux (Haran 69), Medway, Stock (Robinson 73), Lewis, Swallow, Paterson (Donnelly 83), Mullings, Hayter. Attendance: 885