Disciplined Hawks ease through

Nic Ciardini scored again from the spot. Picture: Dave Haines
Nic Ciardini scored again from the spot. Picture: Dave Haines
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The Hawks stormed into the last 16 of the FA Trophy with a confident 3-1 replay win over Whitehawk at a soggy Westleigh Park.

It was a thoroughly professional performance from the home side.

And the reward for Lee Bradbury’s outfit is a home tie against Skrill South rivals Ebbsfleet United next month.

Two first-half goals from Alek Przespolewski and Dan Strugnell put the Hawks in charge.

A second-half Nic Ciardini penalty then sealed the win.

And boss Bradbury praised his men for the way they adapted to the conditions after the Westleigh Park surface passed a 3pm inspection.

‘We put in a very disciplined and professional performance,’ he said.

‘It was clear the team who could adapt the best to the conditions would come out on top.

‘We kept our shape and showed we were up for the fight.

‘The longer the game went on the stronger we looked and our fitness levels showed.

‘The two first-half goals were important because they relaxed us and gave us the breathing space.’

The Hawks made two changes to their starting line-up with Jake Newton injured and Dennis Oli ill.

Strugnell and Przespolewski were drafted in to replace them – and the duo delivered in style.

Conditions were difficult from the start with the ball holding up on the saturated surface.

Whitehawk keeper Chris Winterton was almost caught out when he slipped trying to make a clearance.

But overall the visitors coped better in the early stages.

Sam Gargan got above the defence to head straight at Scott Bevan before Courtney Richards almost put the Sussex side ahead on 15 minutes with a header that flashed past the post.

Two minutes later it was the Hawks turn to go agonisingly close.

Sahr Kabba was only a whisker away from meeting Ciardini’s low cross at the far post.

With steady rain falling, it wasn’t getting any easier.

And Bevan was forced to make two quick-fire saves before the home side finally broke the deadlock in the 37th minute from a half-cleared corner.

Perry Ryan headed the ball back in and the unmarked Przespolewski slid his shot under Winterton.

The home side tightened their grip on the tie a minute before the break.

Dan Blanchett crossed from the left and Strugnell dived in front of his defender to head home.

The Hawks were keen to keep the visitors on the back foot in the second half, too.

Kabba’s deft pass put Scott Jones in but the striker wanted too much time and was robbed.

Meanwhile, Pedro Monteiro was showing all his experience with a commanding performance in defence.

The hosts then killed off any hopes the visitors had of a fightback on the hour with a penalty.

Kabba was tripped and Ciardini drove his spot-kick past Winterton.

Jones headed over an open goal with the Hawks now rampant.

But Whitehawk continued to plug away and Blanchett produced a goalline clearance before they grabbed a consolation through Danny Mills.

Kabba and Matty Lawrence were then booked following an off-the-ball incident as the Hawks eased home.

HAWKS: Bevan, Strugnell, Blanchett, Atangana, Harris , Monteiro, Ciardini, Ryan, Jones, Kabba, Przespolewski.

Subs: Woodford, Hutchinson, Kewley-Graham, Ramsey, Wedlake

WHITEHAWK: Winterton, Cadmore, Hills, Richards, Lawrence, El-Abd, Robinson, Mills, Gargantua, Parsons, Losasso.

Subs: Fraser, Da Silva, Freeman