Bradbury: Hawks can be serious contenders

Jason Prior netted a hat-trick of penalties. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Jason Prior netted a hat-trick of penalties. Picture: Habibur Rahman
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Lee Bradbury believes the Hawks can become ‘contenders’ in National League South following their outstanding 3-1 win at Braintree Town.

A second-half hat-trick of penalties from Jason Prior demolished the Essex side’s proud unbeaten home record on Saturday.

At the same time it added to the Hawks’ impressive performances on the road, where they have lost just once so far this season.

It is the Westleigh Park side’s home form which has been far from convincing – and Bradbury accepts that has to change.

‘If we put in performances like this every week then we will be considered serious contenders,’ he said.

‘This has to be right up there alongside the game at Maidenhead in the FA Cup as one of our best of the season

‘However, greater consistency is what I am looking for.

‘It was a strong display and we have to transfer the same attitude and hard work into our home games.

‘Braintree were joint top and unbeaten at home but we were the better side – with and without the ball.

‘There was nothing lucky about the win and all three penalties were stone-wall in our eyes.

‘Fortunately, we had a referee who was brave enough to give the right decisions.’

An even opening 45 minutes ended goalless. The Hawks made a lively start but came under increasing pressure as the half went on.

As the interval approached, the visitors had to work hard to stay in the game.

Two penalties in the opening eight minutes of the second half turned the game, though.

On 48 minutes, Wes Fogden was brought down as he burst into the box and Prior confidently stroked his spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Five minutes later Prior produced a carbon copy after he had been fouled trying to latch on to a ball spilled by the goalkeeper.

The Hawks then came under pressure after the hosts reduced the deficit on 66 minutes.

But on 79 minutes, Prior struck again – after another foul on Fogden.

This time the striker drove his spot-kick straight down the middle.

‘In my 20 years in football, I have never seen a hat-trick of penalties in one game,’ added Bradbury.

‘They were all good penalties, too.

‘Jason is an intelligent footballer. It isn’t always easy to come out on top in a game of bluff and double-bluff.

‘That’s nine in seven for Jason, who is showing he can score goals at this level. The challenge is to keep it going.’

Hawks: Young, Rose (Strugnell, 46min), Harris, Woodford, Williams, Lewis, Fogden (Hayter, 85min), Robinson (Widdrington, 73min), Carter, Tarbuck, Prior

n Ibra Sekajja earned Bognor a draw at title-chasing Truro City.

The striker netted a first-half equaliser before debutant Ferdinand Takyi had a goal ruled out for offside with 10 minutes remaining.