Hawks boss predicts bright future for super Hooper

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Lee Bradbury has praised the raw talent of JJ Hooper after the young striker scored both goals in the Hawks’ 2-0 win at Maidenhead United.

Hooper, recalled for the injured Alan Connell, made the most of his opportunity in the Vanarama Conference South showdown.

The former Newcastle United Academy player scored twice in the opening 45 minutes at York Road with two outstanding finishes.

His goals set the Hawks on their way to a fourth successive league win, which saw them move up to second in the table.

‘He is a raw talent,’ said Bradbury.

‘The lad is quick, strong and he can finish.

‘If you look at his goals per game ratio in this league – at Farnborough last season and now with us – there are few with a better record.

‘His second goal was a fantastic finish.

‘He has little back-lift on his strike and the goalkeeper had no chance as it dipped just under the crossbar.

‘He is going to be a very good player but he is only 20 years old and still has a lot to learn.

‘Already he has shown he is learning quickly and is very keen to play at the highest level he can.

‘There is no doubt he will play in the Football League again.

‘Our front two showed great quality and caused them a lot of problems.’

Hooper gave the Hawks a dream start by opening the scoring after only three minutes.

Bradley Bubb sent him clear down the left channel with a perfectly-weighted ball. Hooper still had plenty to do but brilliantly fired his shot across home goalkeeper Elvis Putnins and in off the far post.

Maidenhead’s response was ferocious and for 20 minutes the Hawks had to defend for their lives.

Ryan Young pulled off a couple of excellent saves, though, as the visitors weathered the storm.

And on 24 minutes the Hawks broke out and Hooper tightened their grip on the game with a stunning second goal.

Picking the ball up 35 yards out, the striker burst forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot that flew past Putnins and high into the net.

It was important the Hawks didn’t allow the Magpies a way back into the contest at the start of the second half.

And they achieved that target in admirable fashion.

Although they came under increasing pressure at times, hard work and good defending ensured they kept the hosts at bay.

‘It is pleasing to keep another clean sheet,’ said Bradbury.

‘Maidenhead were physically strong and had good pace in their ranks.

‘I felt as the game went on we were always capable of getting a third goal on the counter-attack.

‘We had to defend a little bit deeper than we wanted in the last 10 minutes.

‘But I felt we dealt with the threat well.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Stock (Ryan, 40mins), Dutton, Harris, Ciardini, Donnelly, Hooper (Mullings, 50mins), Bubb (Swallow, 83mins), Huggins. Subs not used: Woodford, Blanchett.

Att: 355