Bradbury delighted by ‘courageous’ Hawks

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The Hawks relieved some of their FA Trophy heartache with a 1-0 Skrill South win over Hayes & Yeading at the Kingfield Stadium.

Lee Bradbury’s side have spent the past week soul-searching after their disappointing semi-final defeat by Gosport Borough.

Chairman Derek Pope accused the players of ‘losing their bottle’ on the big occasion as they missed out on a Wembley final.

Under the circumstances, Bradbury needed a reaction from his players and he felt they bounced back in good fashion.

The win at Hayes was no more than they deserved after dominating much of the contest.

More importantly the players looked determined to make up for their shortcomings of the previous week.

In the end it was defender Ryan Woodford who celebrated his recall to the side by popping up with a late winning goal.

And now Bradbury is insisting they build on it when they take on AFC Portchester in tonight’s Hampshire Senior Cup semi-final at Westleigh Park (7.45pm).

‘It was important we put in a good performance and I was pleased with our response,’ said the former Pompey striker.

‘How we set up worked well and the lads were brave and courageous on the ball.

‘I asked for a reaction after last week and I think I got just that.

‘It was one of our most professional performances so far this season.

‘The lads can have a good pat on the back for that.’

The opening 45 minutes were largely forgettable as both teams worked hard to overcome the difficult conditions underfoot.

On a soft pitch which cut up badly in places, it was difficult to run and pass with any confidence.

The Hawks went close when Pedro Monteiro’s cross-come-shot drifted over the Hayes & Yeading goalkeeper only to bounce to safety off the crossbar.

But ultimately it was the introduction of forwards Dennis Oli and Christian Nanetti early in the second half that proved the key.

Both players, maybe with something to prove after the previous week, gave the Hawks an added impetus going forward.

The visitors had to remain patient, though.

And in the end they got their reward as eight minutes from time Woodford popped up at the far post to knock the ball home from a corner.

‘We passed the ball well and had the majority of the possession,’ said Bradbury.

‘I don’t think Hayes had a chance but we still need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal.

‘The lads who came off the bench made a big impact and we are going to need that with 12 games still to play this month.

‘We won on Saturday because we were organised, kept the ball well and worked hard.

‘It was a big step for us towards getting the Trophy disappointment out of our system.’

The win lifted the Hawks up to 13th in the table.

They are 12 points behind fifth-placed Weston-super-Mare but with 10 games in hand.

Hawks: Bevan, Strugnall, Blanchett, Ryan, Monteiro, Woodford, Ciardini, Atangana, Jones (Przespolewski, 63mins), Kabba

(Oli, 45mins), Donnelly (Nanetti, 63mins). Subs not used: Cummings, Newton. Att: 170.