Hawks eyeing the top prize

Nic Ciardini.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142721-3)
Nic Ciardini.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142721-3)
  • Hawks can cement play-off place with Bath win
  • Bradbury eyeing automatic promotion
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The Hawks can virtually seal a Vanarama conference south play-off spot by beating Bath City at Westleigh Park this afternoon (3pm).

A win will see Lee Bradbury’s side open up an eight-point gap on fifth-placed Gosport Borough with just two games remaining.

I am looking upwards at trying to overtake the clubs in front of us

Lee Bradbury

It would also make it extremely difficult for other chasing clubs – Whitehawk and Concord Rangers – to overhaul them, even though they both have a game in hand.

The gap to league leaders Bromley is only four points, though.

Hawks manager Bradbury has his sights on higher things and still hasn’t given up on the chance of pipping the three clubs ahead of them to the title and gaining automatic promotion.

‘I am looking upwards at trying to overtake the clubs in front of us,’ said Bradbury.

‘We want a good finish to make sure we end up in the highest position possible.

‘There are three big games to go and we must go out and try to win every one and see where it takes us.’

Bradbury’s team were made to work hard for their three points at Wheatsheaf Park on Saturday, where already-relegated Staines put up a good fight.

AFC Bournemouth loanee Josh Carmichael was given his first start, as Brian Stock started his five-game ban.

Shamir Mullings, Harry Cornick and Nic Ciardini were also recalled.

Cornick – also a new loan recruit – did the damage by scoring both goals in Hawks’ 2-1 victory.

The visitors were far from their best in the first half and even fell behind to a 14th-minute goal against the run of play.

Once Cornick got the final touch for a 27th-minute equaliser from a corner, there was only ever going to be one winner.

In the second half the Hawks were much better at making their greater quality count.

On 66 minutes Cornick broke away from inside his own half and outpaced the home defenders before firing 
into the far corner of the net to put his side in front for the first time in the game.

That was enough for the Hawks, although they could and should 
have added further goals in the final stages.

Mullings blazed over an open goal and substitute Bradley Bubb was denied by an acrobatic save from the home goalkeeper.

Bradbury admits they were not at their best in the first half but was pleased with the way his side turned it around.

He also gave credit to the home side, who only had pride to play for.

‘Staines played with no fear and with a lot of pride and passion,’ said Bradbury.

‘They made it difficult for us and we were not at our best in the first half.

‘Our decision-making in the opening 45 minutes was poor and we didn’t clear our lines well enough.

‘I got the players in at the break and we were able to address a few things.

‘I thought we were a lot better after that and showed good energy and enthusiasm.

‘We came away with all three points in the end which is what counts.’

Nic Ciardini is likely to miss out on today’s game against Bath after picking up an an ankle injury that required three stitches.

Josh Huggins, who replaced him, is likely to be recalled to the starting line-up.

Hawks: (from) Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Harris, Cummings, Donnelly, Carmichael, Swallow, Huggins, Cornick, Mullings, Wright, Bubb, Awford, Monteiro, Blanchett, Hooper