The Hawks finally turned their form around with their first goals and opening Vanarama National League South points by beating Margate 2-0 at Westleigh Park.
Lee Bradbury was pleased to see his team put in a much-improved performance – after defeats to Bishop’s Stortford and Sutton United – to earn a deserved victory over dangerous opponents.
Two outstanding pieces of finishing from Matt Paterson and Dan Strugnell sealed the win for the hardworking home side.
A relieved Bradbury was impressed by the way his team applied themselves.
‘We deserved our win because we worked so much harder and got on the front foot,’ said the manager.
‘We were a lot better off the ball and our tempo was good.
‘It had to be because Margate are a good side and they passed the ball well.
‘We knew we couldn’t let them settle on the ball and had to close them down quickly.
‘The most impressive thing for me was our mindset, though.
‘We worked hard, more than matched them and scored good goals.’
The Hawks’ first win came in less-than-favourable circumstances after Bradbury made four changes to his starting line-up.
The manager found his plans severely disrupted inside the first half-hour when he lost both Brian Stock and Lee Molyneaux to injury.
But the Hawks did not allow the setbacks to upset them and continued vigorously setting about their task.
They got their reward on 34 minutes through a superb piece of opportunism from Paterson.
The Hawks pride themselves on their passing football but the first goal of their season came via route one.
Goalkeeper Ryan Young launched a long clearance upfield and Paterson got beyond his marker.
With the goalkeeper in no-mans-land, the striker expertly hooked the ball over his head and into the net.
‘I was pleased for Pato with his cultured finish,’ said Bradbury.
‘He deserved it because he worked so hard for the team.
‘He showed his ability to force mistakes from defenders and then the quality to finish chances off.’
The Hawks had one let-off when Margate saw a low shot cannon back off the post and the visitors continued to look threatening after the break.
The home side needed a second goal and on 65 minutes full-back Strugnell provided it in spectacular fashion.
Picking the ball up on the right edge of the area, he cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable left-foot shot into the far top corner.
‘In the last 20 minutes we had to defend resolutely to keep them out but we did it well,’ said Bradbury.
‘I felt we played the last two games too much as individuals but we worked more as a team on Saturday.’