Bradbury hails spirit as Hawks battle to point

Hawks winger Ben Swallow. Picture: Mick Young
Hawks winger Ben Swallow. Picture: Mick Young
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Lee Bradbury admitted a draw was a fair result after watching his Hawks miss their chance to take top spot in the Ryman League premier division at Tonbridge Angels last night.

The Westleigh Park outfit fell behind early in the first half before Jason Prior salvaged a point late on.

Substitute Ben Swallow was the architect for the leveller.

And Bradbury was full of praise for the winger – along with the battling spirit of his troops.

The Hawks boss said: ‘We showed we are prepared to battle it out when the going gets tough.

‘This is an excellent point for us and keeps us ticking over. Not many teams will go a goal down at Tonbridge and come away with anything.

‘Our second-half performance was strong against a big physical side.

‘I was particularly pleased with the way they stood up to Tonbridge and didn’t allow themselves to be bullied.

‘When I sent Ben Swallow on for the final 10 minutes he made a difference straight away.

‘He was lively and delivered a great ball in for Jason to grab the equaliser.

‘The draw was a fair result. It could prove costly, though, because we lost Dan Strugnell and Alfie Rutherford with injuries.

The Hawks made one change – with Wes Fogden returning to the starting line-up in place of the injured Brian Stock. Matt Paterson had recovered from injury and was on the bench.

Rutherford set up an early chance for the visitors but Rory Williams’ shot was easily saved.

The Hawks suffered a blow on 10 minutes when Strugnell injured himself stretching to clear.

The defender limped off and was replaced by Lee Molyneaux.

Goalkeeper Ryan Young then came to the Hawks’ rescue on 12 minutes when he brilliantly turned an Alex Akrofi header on to the post.

Almost immediately, though, Akrofi latched on to a good through ball from Tom Phipp to slot past Young and give Tonbridge the lead.

Bradley Tarbuck shot wide from a good position before half-time.

Tonbridge came out with purpose at the start of the second period and Nick Wheeler shot narrowly wide.

The Hawks threatened with a quick counter-attack. Prior found Rutherford who cut in and forced a near-post save from the Angels goalkeeper.

From the corner, Theo Lewis headed against the post but was pulled up for offside.

Winger Akofri continued to cause problems but with 10 minutes left the Hawks sent on Swallow for Mike Carter and the Welsh winger made an instant impact.

After Lewis was fouled, Swallow swung in a free-kick which beat everyone in the area apart from Prior who found the net from close range at the far post.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Woodford, Harris, Williams, Lewis, Carter, Fogden Tarbuck, Prior, Rutherford. Subs: Paterson, Molyneaux, Hayter, Barker, Swallow