Hawks face double loss

Ed Harris, centre, in action against Sutton United on Saturday Picture: Allan Hutchings
Ed Harris, centre, in action against Sutton United on Saturday Picture: Allan Hutchings
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The Hawks face a mounting defensive crisis ahead of tonight’s home showdown with Concord Rangers in Vanarama Conference South (7.45pm).

Lee Bradbury expects to be without both of his regular central-defensive pairing, after Ed Harris limped off at half-time against Sutton United and looks like joining the already-injured Brian Dutton on the casualty list.

The experienced pair have been the mainstay in the heart of the defence all season and their absence will be a massive blow.

In the 2-2 draw with Sutton United at the weekend, Josh Huggins did well after moving across from full-back to partner Dan Strugnell in the middle of the defence.

Bradbury also has the option of recalling vastly-experienced defender Pedro Monteiro to fill in.

Monteiro, though, has yet to make a start in the league this season and has been concentrating on his player-coach role.

‘It is not a good time to be losing two of your key players at the back,’ said Bradbury.

‘We think Ed (Harris) has got a broken toe.

‘He tried to play through it with an injection but it didn’t work out.

‘He is a tough character but it might take him a little longer before he gets back.

‘It is unfortunate that we have lost two defenders straight after letting Ryan Woodford go out on loan to Bognor.

‘We can’t recall him until 28 days are up and that isn’t until just before the Farnborough game.

‘On a positive note, Perry Ryan and Josh Huggins have done well for us at the back in the last two games.

‘They have been prepared to win their headers and tackles and put their bodies on the line.’

Bradbury may also consider making a change up front, after JJ Hooper impressed as a second-half substitute against Sutton.

Hooper provided a lot of energy and caused the visiting defenders all sorts of problems with his pace.

He also capped his performance with a superb equaliser, which earned the Hawks a vital point in their play-off push.

Few better individual goals have been seen at Westleigh Park in recent years and it was also a vital strike after the Hawks had been reduced to 10 men when Nic Ciardini was sent off.

The youngster ran at the defence, cut inside his defender and fired an unstoppable left-foot shot into the top far corner of the net.

Earlier in the season, Hooper attracted the attention of a number of clubs with his goalscoring ability but since then he has gone off the boil.

And that has seen him find himself behind Ben Wright and Bradley Bubb in the strikers’ pecking order.

After Saturday, though, he must feel he has done enough to stake his claim for a place in Bradbury’s starting line-up.

The manager insists his side can’t afford another patchy performance against Concord.

‘Concord are a hard-working, physical side who are difficult to get on top of,’ added Bradbury.

‘We need to show the fight and commitment we displayed in the second half against Sutton for 90 minutes.’

HAWKS: Young, Ryan, Strugnell, Huggins, Cummings, Monteiro, Donnelly, Stock, Swallow, Ciardini, Wright, Hooper, Bubb, Connell, Mullings, Blanchett, Medway