Hawks boss frustrated as chance goes begging

Nic Ciardini. Picture: Mick Young (151326-19)
Nic Ciardini. Picture: Mick Young (151326-19)
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Lee Bradbury rued a missed opportunity for his Hawks to leap away from the National League South relegation places.

The Westleigh Park outfit were held 1-1 by fellow strugglers Bath City on home turf last night.

But Nic Ciardini’s early strike had looked like earning a vital three points until the visitors levelled two minutes into stoppage-time.

‘It was definitely two points thrown away,’ said Hawks boss Bradbury.

‘We should have had the game won in the first half and a second goal would have killed it.

‘All the time it was just the one goal in it they still had a chance.

‘The pressure got to us in the last 20 minutes and we lost the initiative.

‘They scored with probably the only header they won in our box all night.

‘It was one lapse in concentration and they punished us for it.

‘I thought we were good for the three points and it is hard when you are on the receiving end of a late goal.

‘Football can be a very cruel game sometimes.

‘At the moment we just can’t seem to get out of the bottom three and this was a missed opportunity.

‘We have to remain positive and keep moving on.’

The Hawks named the same squad that forced a 1-1 draw at Whitehawk.

And in a frenetic opening, Ciardini gave the home side a dream start with a 12th-minute goal.

Scott Donnelly laid the ball back to the midfielder, who stepped inside a defender before firing a low shot into the far corner.

The hosts twice went close to adding to their lead in the space of a minute midway through the half.

Ben Swallow turned a Shamir Mullings cross over and then, almost immediately, Ciardini drilled an angled shot against the top of the crossbar.

The Hawks were well on top when Mullings crashed another 20-yard drive wide of the target.

Brian Stock went even closer after a fine dummy by Donnelly but his effort arrowed past the angle of post and bar.

Bath threatened briefly at the start of the second half with the home side struggling to scramble away a corner.

Donnelly then sliced a shot wide of the near post as the Hawks looked for the security of a second goal.

Lee Molyneaux and Josh Hill both blocked firmly struck shots at the other end.

With 20 minutes left, Matt Paterson replaced Mullings up front for the Hawks.

Young saved the Hawks with a brave stop after Andy Watkins got in behind the home defence.

The Hawks were coming under increasing pressure, though.

And after surviving a goalmouth melee, Watkins headed a corner in at the far post to peg the Hawks back at the death.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Medway, Stock, Molyneaux, Hill, Swallow, Donnelly, Mullings, Ciardini, Lewis. Subs: Paterson, Hayter, Thomson, Blanchett, Cain. Att: 424