The Hawks travel to the Waterside looking for some rare cup joy as they take on Wessex League premier division outfit Blackfield & Langley in the Hampshire Senior Cup tonight (7.30pm).
It has been a dismal year for the Westleigh Park club in knock-out competitions, with early exits from the FA Cup and FA Trophy.
Manager Shaun Gale views the county competition as an opportunity to make amends.
‘Our record in cups has not been great this year,’ admitted Gale.
‘It has been disappointing because we missed opportunities at Weston-super-Mare in the FA Cup and Weymouth in the FA Trophy.
‘We had chances but that little bit of Lady Luck you need in the cup sometimes was missing.
‘It is frustrating because we fell short of our usual standards in both ties.
‘We have to get on with things because that’s all done and dusted and we can’t bring it back.’
Despite this season’s knock-out blows, Gale pointed out the Hawks have enjoyed success in that format in recent years, most notably their famous FA Cup clash at giants Liverpool in 2008.
‘People forget very quickly, though, that over recent years we have a cup record as good as any non-league side,’ said Gale.
‘As a club, you can’t expect to reach the first round of the FA Cup and beyond every year – although that’s what you aim for.
‘The law of averages tells you it is not going to happen.’
Gale intends to make a few changes at Blackfield tonight but admits he doesn’t have a lot of flexibility within his squad.
Jon McDonald and Craig Braham-Barrett are both still out injured and Lee Peacock remains doubtful because of illness.
A few senior players also picked up niggling knocks in the 1-1 league draw at home to Weston-super-Mare at the weekend.
Ideally, Gale would like to bring in a few of his Academy players to give them a taste of first-team football and aid their development.
But Paul Barton’s side have an important top-of-the table game at Dartford tomorrow night.
Regular substitutes Bradley Norton, Harvey Whyte and Carlos Geteski are likely to get an opportunity for a rare starting appearance, though.
‘We are down to the barebones,’ said Gale.
‘That is where we are and we have to get on with it.
‘We don’t have a great record in this cup but it is an opportunity if we progress to have a cup final at the end of the season.
‘Blackfield & Langley have some good players and it won’t be easy at their place.
‘We will be going there to produce a professional performance and to win the game.’
Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Cashman, Hopkinson, Holland, Woodford, Ryan, Ramsey, Palmer, Igoe, Hinshelwood, Pearce, Jones, Norton, Geteski, Whyte, Peacock.