Bradbury: We need to stop handing out gifts

Ed Harris. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Ed Harris. Picture: Allan Hutchings
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Lee Bradbury is backing his Hawks squad to bounce back against Sutton United in their Vanarama National League South contest at Westleigh Park (7.45pm).

The Hawks opened their season with a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Bishop’s Stortford where they paid the price for some poor defending.

Everyone makes mistakes and we have to learn from them and improve

Lee Bradbury

Last season the Hawks kept the largest number of clean sheets in the league but at Woodside Park they badly missed the absent Ed Harris.

With Harris likely to remain out of action for at least another month Bradbury has to solve his defensive problems quickly.

He has brought in Manny Monthe, who was with Hayes & Yeading at the end of last season, on a non-contract basis as cover.

Monthe went on for the second half on Saturday after Brian Dutton endured a difficult opening 45 minutes.

‘Defensively we have to be a lot stronger and can’t afford to keep gifting opponents goals,’ said Bradbury.

‘To lose one of your central defenders just before the start of the season doesn’t make life easy.

‘We missed Ed Harris not only for his solidity but for the solid partnership built up with Brian Dutton.

‘Everyone makes mistakes and we have to learn from them and improve.

‘The first 20 minutes against Sutton will be important and we will be looking not to concede.

‘We have to make opponents work hard if they want to score against us.’

Bradbury has to weigh up whether he needs to make changes or whether to give certain players another chance.

At Bishop’s Stortford, the Hawks did well and created the better chances until they presented the home side with a gift of a goal mid-way through the first half.

Goalkeeper Ryan Young and Dutton got into an awful muddle leaving the home striker with the simple task of netting into an empty goal.

It was a disaster because it gave the hosts the confidence to go on and easily win the game.

They prevented the Hawks from playing the game at their tempo and frustrated their efforts to get back into the game by breaking up the play.

‘In the later stages we ended up going too long, pumping the ball forward and hoping something would happen,’ said Bradbury.

‘When you fall behind in a game it is how you react that is important.

‘We have enough experience out on the pitch to deal with it better.

‘Against Sutton we just need to relax and play our game.’

Sutton will be dangerous opponents after also losing their opening game.

They will arrive on the south coast licking their wounds and looking to make amends.

‘Both teams will be looking to put things right so it should make for an interesting game,’ added Bradbury.

The first goal could prove crucial with both teams suffering from fragile confidence after their opening-day woes.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Monthe, Molyneaux, Blanchett, Cummings, Stock, Donnelly, Clifton, Ciardini, Paterson, Morgan, Hayter, Swallow, Monteiro, Kimber, Ridge.