Hawks braced for ‘biggest game in their history’

Hawks caretaker boss Steve Johnson   Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks caretaker boss Steve Johnson Picture: Dave Haines
Richard Pacquette and Rocky Baptiste (right) celebrate with the Hawks fans after the win against Swansea

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Steve Johnson reckons the Hawks face the biggest match in their 14-year history as they take on Staines in their final game of the season at Westleigh Park (3pm).

He rates it alongside, if not more important, than the famous FA Cup tie against Liverpool at Anfield in 2008.

A win tomorrow will guarantee the Hawks’ Blue Square Bet South safety.

But anything less will leave them relying on the results of Maidenhead United and Hampton & Richmond Borough, who currently occupy the remaining two relegation places.

The Hawks go into the game just one place above the drop zone but have the advantage of knowing they will be the masters of their own destiny.

‘This is a huge game and one we need to win,’ said caretaker-manager Johnson. ‘It is easily the most important game our current players will have been involved in and arguably the biggest game for everyone here.

‘We are desperate to stay at this level and the players need to take responsibility. They will be made aware of the magnitude of the situation.

‘It is all about their desire and how much they want it.

‘They will need to be big and strong.

‘If they come off the field with anything left in the tank then they will have let everybody down.

‘Our fate is in our own hands and we must do the business.’

The Hawks have suffered from inconsistency all season and that eventually led to the removal of manager Shaun Gale at the end of last month.

Johnson and his assistant Adie Aymes agreed to take the reins and the task of avoiding relegation for the past six games.

It looked as though that would be achieved when they started with wins against Truro and Salisbury but, since then, three consecutive defeats have left the Hawks on the brink.

The defeat at Farnborough last weekend came after an ‘ unacceptable’ performance and Johnson admits a big improvement is needed against a Staines side who are assured of safety.

‘We never got going at Farnborough and we were on the back foot from the start,’ said Johnson.

‘Panic set in and we can’t afford to let that happen again.

‘We have to do better and a good start to the game will be so important.

‘Staines won’t be coming to make life easy for us. It is up to us to win the personal battles, remain composed and see the job through.

‘I am convinced we can get the win and stay up.’

The only doubt is Steve Ramsey, who took a slight knock at Farnborough, but Johnson expects to have a full squad to choose from.

Hawks: Thomas, Newton, Dolan, Pearce, Arthur, Hutchinson, Ramsey, Igoe, Nanetti, Palmer, Jones, Thompson, Hinshelwood, Woodford, Hopkinson, McDonald, Holland, Ryan.