Hawks eager to avoid a Knight-mare survival scrap

Alan Knight in his days as Hawks goalkeeping coach  Picture: Dave Haines
Alan Knight in his days as Hawks goalkeeping coach Picture: Dave Haines
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The Hawks hope former goalkeeping coach Alan Knight does not push them closer to the relegation scrap tomorrow.

Shaun Gale’s side travel to Dorchester, who are managed by Pompey legend Knight.

The Hawks are desperate for points, having lost their past three matches in Blue Square Bet South and won just one league match in 2012.

They are in for a tough test this weekend, though, against a Dorchester side who sit ninth in the table.

Knight played briefly for the Hawks in 2003, before joining them for two stints as goalkeeping coach.

The second of those was earlier this season but Pompey’s record appearance holder left Westleigh Park in November to take over at the Magpies.

The Hawks remain just six points above the drop-zone after three successive away defeats and desperately need a change of fortune.

Their latest loss came at Welling in midweek when, leading 1-0 with just five minutes to go – despite having striker Scott Jones harshly sent off just before half-time – the hosts levelled from the rebound of a controversial penalty.

Rocked by the injustice, the Hawks then imploded and conceded another two goals in as many minutes.

It was a cruel end to what had been a brave rearguard action from the 10 men in the second half.

But Gale is hoping it can have a positive effect tomorrow.

‘We felt cheated,’ said Gale

‘I don’t like to criticise officials but I’ve never experienced anything like that before.

‘Two other managers who were at the game have rung me up since and said we were robbed.

‘The players showed a great trench mentality after going down to 10 men and I learned a lot about their character.

‘They showed we are all in this together and, to a man, were prepared to run through a brick wall to get a win.

‘The back four were magnificent and the players in front of them worked their socks off.

‘We must go to Dorchester, do the same and try to win the game.’

The Hawks, however, have to make a change in defence because of the absence of in-form full-back Jake Newton.

Newton flies out to Guyana today to take part in a friendly which is part of his nation’s World Cup qualifying preparation.

Meanwhile, up to four Hawks players are carrying knocks and are battered and bruised from the physical midweek encounter – but Gale expects them to respond to treatment.

Using Ollie Palmer to partner Scott Jones up front, with five across the middle, worked well at Welling and Gale is likely to persevere with the system.

The manager is still working behind the scenes to bring in a couple of more experienced heads but his search has proved difficult so far.

‘This weekend is more about picking up points than the quality of the performance,’ said Gale.

‘We don’t want to find ourselves in a relegation scrap come the final weeks of the season.’

Hawks: Beazley, McDonald, Woodford, Pearce, Arthur, Ramsey, Ryan, Hinshelwood. Igoe, Palmer, Jones, Holland, Braham-Barrett, Hopkinson.