Bradbury: Hawks must be ready for a scrap

Ed Harris, centre, has formed a strong centre-back partnership with Brian Dutton.   Picture: Mick Young
Ed Harris, centre, has formed a strong centre-back partnership with Brian Dutton. Picture: Mick Young
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Lee Bradbury is calling on his team to stand strong against St Albans City in their Vanarama Conference South contest at Clarence Park tomorrow (3pm).

The Hawks boss believes the players will need to man the barricades if they are to maintain their impressive run of form away from home.

Bradbury’s team are unbeaten in their past five games on their travels.

And the boss is backing his troops to stand up to what he believes will be a fierce challenge from the Hertfordshire side.

Bradbury said: ‘St Albans are a big, physical direct team who throw the ball into the area.

‘They use the long throw tactic and we can expect to be put under pressure. As a team of spoilers they will wear you down if you are not careful.

‘We will have to be prepared to batten down the hatches and scrap for every ball. It is important we don’t switch off at any time, or we could end up paying for it.

‘I am confident we will be able to stand up to it because we have shown ourselves to be pretty stubborn.

‘Our back four is a solid unit and we have become hard to beat.

‘We have kept 10 clean sheets from 14 games and that can give us a lot of confidence.’

Bradbury is unlikely to make changes at the back, where Brian Dutton and Ed Harris are forming a formidable partnership.

Brian Stock and Scott Donnelly are proving the playmakers in the middle and they will have an important role again.

Bradbury may decide to bring the forceful presence of Nic Ciardini back in place of Josh Huggins, who has been a bit out of form in recent games.

There are plenty of options up front where Bradbury has to decide whether to keep Alan Connell and JJ Hooper in the starting line-up.

Bradley Bubb and Shamir Mullings are the other options.

Ben Swallow has proved a great attacking outlet for the Hawks in the last few games.

The Welsh winger can provide a dangerous counter-attacking threat to the home side.

With four league games between now and the end of the year Bradbury accepts it is an important time.

‘The next batch of games are important and we want to maintain our momentum,’ said the Hawks boss.

‘It was so pleasing to see there was no hangover after our Preston FA Cup exit. Even though we only beat Weston by one goal I felt we played well.

‘We had lots of possession, passed the ball well and created a number of chances. ‘I want us to take that into the next few games.

‘If we can start the new year in and around the play-off places then we will give ourselves every chance.’

HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Harris, Dutton, Cummings, Stock, Donnelly, Ciardini, Huggins, Swallow, Hooper, Connell, Ryan, Blanchett, Woodford, Bubb, Mullings.

n Hawks will be hosting a quiz tonight to raise funds for Hannah’s Holiday Home.

The Westleigh stages the long-running event with a Star Wars theme for its seventh year.

Organiser Steve Cox said: ‘It’s a fun night for a worthy cause. The more people involved the merrier.’

The quiz begins at 7.30pm with entry £5 per person and hot buffet provided.