Bradbury’s pride after Hawks dig deep at Welling

Dan Strugnell. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Dan Strugnell. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Ash Howes. Picture: Neil Marshall (171151-31)

Horndean boss lauds maturity after top win

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The Hawks maintained their National League South title push with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Welling United.

A 73rd-minute Dan Strugnell goal was enough to edge Lee Bradbury’s side to a vital three points at Park View Road on Saturday.

151326-02 hawks dover Havant Hawks v Dover Athletic. Pic Mick Young 01/08/2015  Kevin Ricketts  king kev PPP-150308-153853001

151326-02 hawks dover Havant Hawks v Dover Athletic. Pic Mick Young 01/08/2015 Kevin Ricketts king kev PPP-150308-153853001

The Hawks had to hang on in the face of late pressure and after the game the boss praised their resilience.

Bradbury said: ‘We showed just why we’ve got the best defensive record in the league.

‘This was somewhere around our 20th clean sheet – nearly half the games – we have kept this season.

‘Defensively, it was a very strong performance. The game was tight with limited chances at both ends.

‘I always felt whoever scored first would have to defend for their lives to protect their lead.

‘There was so much riding on the game for both teams. We needed to win to stay top and they needed to win to stay in the play-off places.

‘In the end we dug deep to earn the win because they threw everything at us in the last 15 minutes.’

The Hawks started strongly and Theo Lewis had a header saved.

In a competitive first period, Bradbury’s team created the better of the chances. Andreas Robinson forced a save from home keeper Bailey Vose with a long-range effort.

But not for the first time this season it was the quality of Ryan Young that kept the Hawks on level terms.

Jack Jebb’s free-kick was destined for the top corner when the keeper somehow tipped the ball on to the bar and behind from a corner.

Welling headed against the post from the resulting set-piece but Bradbury recognised the importance of the save.

He said: ‘It kept us in the game. It was his first save, too, so you have to admire his powers of concentration.’

Welling hit the woodwork again after the interval before Strugnell made the decisive breakthrough. A corner from Rory Williams created havoc in the home area and Strugnell crashed the ball home from six yards.

After that it needed a backs-to-the-wall effort to keep the home side out.

With four games left to play, Bradbury’s team are three points clear at the top – although second-placed Dartford have a game in hand and identical goal difference.

The Hawks boss said: ‘It is all very exciting. Three of our last four games are at home, so we must look to make the most of that. At the start of the season no-one expected us to be in this position.

‘We have over-achieved but must look to keep it going. Having guaranteed our place in the play-offs we now want to keep pushing to win it.’

Meanwhile, Bognor hit rock-bottom with a 3-2 defeat at Gloucester City.

In the final five minutes, Ibra Sekajja and Keaton Wood netted. But then Sami El-Abd missed a great chance to level.

Hawks: Young, Woodford, Harris, Rose (Stock, 58min), Strugnell (Tarbuck, 72min), Lewis, Fogden, Robinson, Williams, Prior, Hayter (Rutherford, 58min). Att: 603