Lee Bradbury admits his side were far from at their best but was happy to see the Hawks pick up a vital 3-1 win over Wealdstone in Vanarama Conference South.
The hosts produced a particularly disjointed first half at Westleigh Park on Saturday but still managed to take the lead – a rarity in itself these days.
We can play better, but it was all about making sure we picked up all the points on offer.Lee Bradbury
Brian Dutton, in for Brian Woodford in the back four, found the goal on 20 minutes.
But Luke O’Nien equalised for the visitors before half-time.
Then two-quick-fire Scott Donnelly goals turned the game on its head in the second period and ended any hope of a comeback for Wealdstone.
On a day when the Hawks were the only top six side to win, Bradbury’s team moved up to fourth and back into the play-off places.
The manager accepted they were below-par but was pleased they ground out the victory and put more crucial points on the board.
‘We can play better, but it was all about making sure we picked up all the points on offer,’ said Bradbury.
‘It was a scrappy game but a couple of bits of quality unlocked Wealdstone and in the end it was a job well done.
‘On a lively bobbly pitch it was difficult for both teams but it was all about grinding out a result.
‘We took our chances and did that in the end.’
The Hawks found the going tough in the opening 45 minutes and struggled against the neat passing of the Wealdstone side.
Despite this, the home side managed to snatch the lead midway through the half with a rare Dutton goal.
The goal reflected the game, as central defender Dutton diverted a mis-hit Brian Stock shot past the wrong-footed visiting goalkeeper.
Wealdstone hit back to level before the break with a close-range O’Nien effort.
It was no more than they deserved, but Bradbury was disappointed his team couldn’t build on their lead.
‘The ball broke down far too much in the first half and we didn’t get a foothold in the game,’ said Bradbury.
‘It was a box-to-box game with neither side really threatening.
‘We went in front for once and that was nice but I was disappointed we then let them back in it not long afterwards.’
Goals change games though, and the Hawks got the break they needed nine minutes into the second half.
When Stock tried to turn inside the visitor’s area he was tripped by James Hammond and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Donnelly coolly sent Jonathan North the wrong-way with his spot-kick and the Hawks took the lead for the second time in the match.
Within two minutes it was all over through another clinical Donnelly finish after a clever pass from Ben Wright.
‘Our two quick goals left Wealdstone deflated,’ said Bradbury.
‘After that we saw the game out easily, though we can play a lot better.
‘Having said that I will take playing badly as long as we win 3-1 every week.
‘We have to go out and try to win every game left this season and give reaching the play-offs a real good go.’
HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Harris, Cummings, Stock, Donnelly (Awford 79), Huggins, Wright (Mullings 78), Bubb (Hooper 78), Swallow