Lee Bradbury has backed new Hawks striker Dennis Oli to be a big hit at Westleigh Park after a promising show on his debut against a Charlton XI.
Oli – released by Wycombe Wanderers – signed a one-year deal two hours before kick-off and was thrown straight into the action in the Hawks final pre-season friendly of the summer.
He found the net in the first half of an entertaining clash as Charlton edged the match 4-3 at Westleigh Park.
Oli has come in to replace last season’s top scorer Ollie Palmer, who joined League Two side Mansfield Town last week.
‘Dennis had one chance and he took it very well,’ said manager Lee Bradbury.
‘It was a good goal and Sahr Kabba and Scott Jones will benefit from his ability to link the play.
‘He trained with us on Thursday and you could see immediately the qualities he is going to bring to the team.
‘The lad is experienced and, at 29, can still get around – though by his own admission he needs to be fitter.
‘It will take a bit of time to get him up to scratch because he has had a patchy pre-season.
‘Once he does that he will be a real threat in our league and opposition centre-halves will come off the pitch knowing they have been in a game.’
Kabba, who looks to have a new lease of life, put the Hawks in front midway through the first half with an excellent volley.
The Addicks soon levelled but Oli restored the Hawks’ lead two minutes before the break with a clinical finish at the end of a quick counter-attack.
An own goal seven minutes into the second period extended the Hawk’s lead before the visitors seized the victory with three goals in the final half-hour.
By that time, the Hawks had rung the changes but it was still slightly disappointing for Bradbury.
‘I have said to my players not to be too disheartened with it because Charlton were a very good side,’ said the boss.
‘It was the perfect preparation for us ahead of our first league game.
‘Their front three were a real handful at times.
‘But on the flipside of that we also caused them a lot of problems – scoring a couple of good goals.
‘There are a lot of positives to come out of it.
‘To go 3-1 in front was pleasing but unfortunately we couldn’t close the back door.
‘That was more down to individual errors than the team’s organisation and we can address that.
‘The last 10 minutes – after we made a number of changes – were shaky but overall I am very pleased.’
The Hawks have also signed Newport (IOW) midfielder Alex Przespolewski, who scored 44 goals in the Wessex League last season.
Bradbury is waiting to hear if triallist winger Serge Makofo will accept a short-term deal at Westleigh Park.