Lee Bradbury praised the battling qualities of his 10-man Hawks after they fought for an important three points at Hayes & Yeading yesterday.
Dan Strugnell was sent off – a decision his boss is determined to appeal – early in the second half of the Vanarama Conference South clash.
But the Hawks showed character to dig deep and take the lead through Nic Ciardini on 73 minutes before holding on to bag the victory which keeps alive their play-off push.
The Westleigh Park outfit are fifth – just one point behind second-placed Bromley.
‘People know we can play good football but yesterday we showed we can do the ugly side as well,’ said Hawks boss Bradbury.
‘After going down to 10 men we showed great resilience and work-rate to go on and win.
‘It is a real positive result at an important time in the season and it could make all the difference come the end of the season.
‘With all the other results going for us it was important we came here and got something.
‘We have given ourselves a bit of breathing space with games in hand over the other play-off chasing teams.
‘In the end we worked harder than Hayes & Yeading to fully deserve the three points.’
Strugnell switched from right-back to the centre of defence to cover for the injured Brian Dutton, leaving Josh Huggins to fill the vacant spot in the back four.
The Hawks made a bright start with both full-backs Warren Cummings and Huggins pinning Hayes back.
With the visitors continuing to have the better of the opening exchanges, Scott Donnelly fired a shot wide from a good position.
It was the Hawks, though, who had a big let-off in the 13th minute as Hayes ventured forward.
Goalkeeper Ryan Young did well to save a 15-yard effort from Tom Derry at the expense of a corner.
And from the resulting set-piece, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe sent his header back across goal and against the far post.
The game developed into a cagey midfield battle until the Hawks had two good chances just before the half-time interval.
Ben Wright was denied by a fingertip save from Kalum Kitscha and from the resulting corner, the striker thumped a header over just the bar.
Disaster struck the Hawks five minutes into the second half when they had Strugnell sent off.
Ogedi-Uzokwe broke clear and the Hawks defender was adjudged to have brought him down.
As the last man, Strugnell was given his marching orders.
Bradbury was disgusted by the sending off and intends to appeal.
‘The sending off should never have been,’ he said.
‘Dan Strugnell clearly toed the ball back to goalkeeper Ryan Young. It was a poor decision.
‘I have looked at the incident again on the video and will definitely be appealing against it.’
Bradbury made a double change on 60 minutes – sending on Dan Blanchett and JJ Hooper for Cummings and Bradley Bubb.
And against the odds it was the Hawks who broke the deadlock with an excellent Ciardini shot.
The wide man cut in from the right before sending a low curling shot just inside the far post.
The Hawks then held on to make sure of victory.
HAWKS: Young, Huggins, Cummings, Stock, Strugnell, Harris, Ciardini, Donnelly, Wright, Bubb, Ryan. Subs: Connell, Swallow, Blanchett, Mullings, Hooper