Bradbury pleased with gutsy recovery from Hawks

Scott Donnelly scored a penalty for the Hawks. Picture: Allan Hutchings (150128-890)
Scott Donnelly scored a penalty for the Hawks. Picture: Allan Hutchings (150128-890)
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Lee Bradbury was pleased with a brave second-half display as the Hawks salvaged a 2-2 Vanarama Conference South draw against Sutton United at Westleigh Park.

For the second week running, Bradbury’s team found themselves down to 10 men for most of the second half.

At Hayes & Yeading the Hawks went on to win, and almost did the same again against their south London visitors.

When Nic Ciardini was sent off, six minutes into the second period, the home side already trailed 2-0 and it looked a lost cause.

Against all odds, though, the hosts hit back through a Scott Donnelly penalty and a stunning strike from substitute JJ Hooper.

Bradbury was delighted with the never-say-die approach in the second half.

The Hawks boss said: ‘The attitude and endeavour we showed in the second half with 10 men, we need to do for 90 minutes.

‘In that period we showed a lot of character and guts.

‘If we can do that, then I don’t think there is a team in this league that can live with us.

‘Even though we were a man down we outfought and outplayed them and should have gone on to win it.’

The first half, however, was a totally different story with Sutton fully deserving their two-goal lead.

Striker Dan Fitchett twice capitalised on lacklustre defending to put his team firmly in the driving seat.

On 21 minutes, he reacted quickest to convert after Ricky Wellard’s shot cannoned back off the inside of the post.

The Hawks looked a shambles at the back.

And six minutes later Ed Harris gifted Fitchett his second with an under-hit backpass.

‘In the first half we were off colour and slow getting to the ball,’ added Bradbury.

‘Sutton were much hungrier and quicker to pick up the second balls.

‘Every good team, first and foremost, works hard to enable their quality to shine through later on.

‘We were guilty of not doing that from the start.

‘Unusually, we didn’t look secure at the back.

‘But Ed Harris was playing with a knock and that showed in his game.’

Ciardini got his marching orders when the referee harshly adjudged him to have used his elbow in a challenge.

Video evidence suggested it was no more than a coming together, with Ciardini, at most, catching his opponent with his outstretched arm.

It proved to be the turning point, however, as the aggrieved Hawks suddenly began to show some fight.

Within a minute, Donnelly got them back into the contest from the penalty spot after Brian Stock had been tripped inside the area.

Suddenly it was the visitors holding on and the introduction of Hooper in the 65th minute proved a great move by Bradbury.

The young striker took on the United defence before smashing an unstoppable shot into the top far corner of the net to earn a vital point in the push for the play-offs.

Hawks: Young, Huggins, Strugnell, Harris (Ryan, 46), Cummings, Stock, Donnelly, Ciardini, Wright (Hooper, 65), Swallow, Bubb (Connell, 65)

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