Derby momentum is with the Hawks

Ben Wright. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143569-3)
Ben Wright. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143569-3)
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The Hawks start the new year with a Vanarama Conference South derby double over Gosport Borough in their sights at Privett Park (3pm).

Lee Bradbury’s team came from behind twice to beat their local rivals 3-2 in the first meeting at Westleigh Park on Boxing Day.

It was an entertaining encounter, with both teams setting out to win the game from the start.

In the end the home side edged to the win courtesy of their more clinical finishing – with Ben Wright grabbing a brace, before Nic Ciardini struck the winning goal.

Another 2-0 win at Bishop’s Stortford 48 hours later further boosted the Hawks’ confidence and saw them climb to third in the table.

The momentum is with Bradbury’s team going into the game, and he is backing his players to keep their run going.

‘I am expecting it to be even tougher than the first game,’ said the Westleigh Park boss.

‘Gosport are unbeaten in their last seven home games in the league.

‘Neither team will want to get beaten and it could prove to be a more cagey affair.

‘We can go into the game with confidence, though, after a couple of good performances.

‘In our present form there is no reason why we can’t go there and get something from the game.

‘I want us going into our final holiday fixture against Hayes on Sunday unbeaten over Christmas.

‘Ten points from our four games would be very satisfying and we are on course for that.’

In the first meeting, Ben Swallow caused Borough’s loanee full-back Jonathan Muleba huge problems.

In the end the young AFC Bournemouth defender was replaced by the more experienced Lee Molyneaux.

Bradbury’s bold ploy of playing both wide men – Swallow and Ciardini – paid off, with the latter grabbing the winner with eight minutes left.

It was Ciardini’s first goal of the season – after scoring 15 from midfield last term.

He continued in the same vein at Bishop’s Stortford, netting the opener at the Woodspring Stadium.

But Bradbury has to decide whether to persevere with the bold gamble at Privett Park.

Striker Wright is certain to start after scoring five goals in five games, including his two against Borough.

‘Ben has shown, if he is given a chance, he will finish and we couldn’t have asked any more from him,’ said Bradbury.

‘He has made a big impact in the short time he has been with us.’

If Bradbury plays two up front, his main options to partner the former Eastleigh striker are Bradley Bubb, Alan Connell and JJ Hooper.

Last season at Privett Park the Hawks froze on the big occasion – losing their FA Trophy semi-final encounter.

Bradbury is determined to prevent that from happening again.

‘The difference this season is we have got more experience on the pitch and possess a bit more nous.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Harris, Blanchett, Stock, Donnelly, Ciardini, Swallow, Wright, Bubb, Connell, Hooper, Huggins, Woodford, Ryan, Mullings