Hawks eye redemption in Borough derby clash

Hawks players Perry Ryan, left, and Sahr Kabba are left dejected after defeat to Gosport Borough in last season's FA Trophy semi-final clash   Picture: Paul Jacobs
Hawks players Perry Ryan, left, and Sahr Kabba are left dejected after defeat to Gosport Borough in last season's FA Trophy semi-final clash Picture: Paul Jacobs
Gosport's squad has been strengthened ahead of the Chesham match

Pike ‘getting closer’ to desired Gosport squad

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The Hawks are aiming to deliver an early blow in the first of three meetings with local rivals Gosport Borough in the next month.

The two clubs meet at Privett Park tonight in the Hampshire Senior Cup (7.45pm) and then twice again in the Vanarama Conference South over Christmas and New Year.

The rivalry between the two clubs was racked up a few notches last season when Borough beat the Hawks in the two-legged FA Trophy semi-finals.

That meant it was Alex Pike’s side and not Lee Bradbury’s men who enjoyed the glory of a Wembley final.

And that still hurts at Westleigh Park.

This season, both teams are pushing for a place in the end-of-season play-offs in the league and neither are likely to put that at risk for success in the local cup competition.

As a result, both are expected to field teams made up of a number of players not getting a regular start in the senior ranks.

Hawks boss Bradbury admits he is likely to ring the changes and give some of his squad players an opportunity.

But that will not be at the expense of his side’s ambitions in the competition.

The Hawks were beaten finalists at Fratton Park last time out – losing 3-2 after extra-time to Basingstoke Town – and would like to go one better this time around.

‘We have got a number of suspensions and injuries to contend with,’ said Bradbury.

‘It is important to look after those and maybe take the opportunity to rest a few other players.

‘Having said that, we still intend to field a side that is competitive and capable of winning the game.

‘We lost in the final last season and would love to go one better this time around.

‘First and foremost, we will be going there to win the local derby.

‘Games between the two teams are usually close-fought affairs and I don’t see this one being any different.’

The Hawks are without the suspended Brian Stock and injured JJ Hooper and a few other players will be rested ahead of the weekend’s league game against Eastbourne Borough.

Young goalkeeper Charlie Searle could get a rare opportunity to build on the progress he made last season when called into the senior side.

Searle showed himself to be an excellent prospect when he stepped up and this season his development is continuing as understudy to team captain Ryan Young.

Alex Przespolewski may also get a start after his appearance as a second-half substitute in the FA Trophy win over East Thurrock United.

The Isle of Wight-based forward was making his first appearance since breaking a toe on loan at Hampton & Richmond Borough.

Academy striker Jake Gale, who scored four on his first-team debut in the Portsmouth Senior Cup, looks set to be included on the bench.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have been handed an away trip to Weymouth in the FA Trophy first-round proper.

The draw, which was made at Wembley yesterday also saw Borough, last season’s FA Trophy runners-up, land a Hampshire derby at Basingstoke Town.

The 32 ties are scheduled to be played on Saturday, December 13, with the winners picking up £5,000.

HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Harris, Dutton, Woodford, Blanchett, Ryan, Donnelly, Ciardini, Przespolewski, Bubb, Swallow, Mullings, Connell, Medway, Wedlake, Gale, Monteiro