Ian Baird sets Hawks wins target in race for National League South title after Concord Rangers stalemate

Assistant manager Ian Baird reckons the Hawks need to win 13 of their remaining 16 games if they are to pip runaway leaders Wealdstone to the Vanarama National League South title.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 12:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 7:36 pm
Ross Worner pulled off two fine saves in the Hawks' draw at Concord Rangers. Picture: Dave Haines

For the second successive week, Paul Doswell's had to settle for a point away from home after failing to score - the latest a 0-0 draw at Concord Rangers.

Unlike at Chippenham the week previous, however, at Concord the visitors created very few chances.

But the draw did ensure the Hawks remain one of just two teams in the top six tiers of English football - the other being Liverpool - with an unbeaten away league record still intact this season.

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‘We have 16 games to go and if we are going to win the league we probably will have to win 13 of them,’ said Baird.

‘It is a big ask, but we are still in the game.

‘Concord can be anything they like and they made it very difficult for us.

‘They live off being who they are and have beaten some very good sides this season.

‘In December, they won six games on the bounce.

‘I felt that we had all the possession but they had the clearer chances.

‘They had two good chances, while we probably failed to create any.

‘It is not the easiest or most salubrious of places to come.

‘Dubai it certainly isn't.

‘It was cold, windy and the pitch was sticky and I don't think the officials helped.

‘This referee in the past has been invariably good for us, but he didn't let the game flow. (against Concord)

‘As a result, the concoction the game served up didn't make it a great spectacle.’

The visitors gave a debut to Frenchman Bedsente Gomis in place of the injured Wes Fogden in midfield.

Concord had claims for a penalty in what was otherwise a dour opening 45 minutes.

The ball was handled on the edge of the Hawks area, with the home players feeling the offence took place in the box.

However, after consulting his assistant, the referee stuck with his original decision of a free-kick.

Danny Kedwell fired into the side-netting just before the break but, in truth, the Hawks had offered little threat.

The best chances continued to fall to the Beachboys in the second half.

But Ross Worner pulled off two fine saves to keep his side level.

First, the Hawks' stopper tipped Lamar Reynolds' shot over the crossbar then denied Jon Nouble in a one-on-one in the closing stages.

An increasingly frustrated Doswell, who has now gone 27 National League South away matches unbeaten as manager of the Hawks and Sutton, was sent off late on after receiving a second yellow card for dissent.

The point keeps the Hawks fourth in the league, leaving them nine points behind leaders Wealdstone with a game in hand.

Doswell's team face a big week with home games against Weymouth (Wednesday) and Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday.