Hawks face toughest test

Hawks striker Alan Connell
Hawks striker Alan Connell
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Lee Bradbury rates the visit to Vanarama Conference South league-leaders Boreham Wood as the Hawks’ toughest assignment yet this season (3pm).

The sixth-placed Westleigh Park side need points to try to force their way back into the play-off spots but know it won’t be easy against the division’s highest scorers.

In Lee Angol, the home outfit also boast the league’s leading goalscorer with 21 goals, so the visitors’ reshuffled defence can expect to have their work cut out.

Gosport Borough’s 3-2 win at Hayes & Yeading in midweek meant the Hawks dropped out of the play-off frame.

And with two tough away games on the horizon, Bradbury knows it is important to keep picking up points to stay in the mix.

‘There are about eight or nine teams challenging for the play-offs so every point counts,’ said the Hawks boss.

‘Boreham Wood have been up there all season, and although they had a little blip, they have forced their way back to the top.

‘They have some very dangerous attacking players and we can expect a stern examination defensively.

‘Boreham have got pace and power up front and can be lethal in front of goal.

‘However, we do possess the third meanest defence in the league but we will have to be at our best.

‘A point would be good, although three would be even better.’

Bradbury’s plans, however, have been hit by injuries to a number of key players who are likely to be ruled out for the trip.

The visitors are in a race against time to try and get Brian Dutton, Alan Connell, Ben Wright and Harry Cornick all fit.

The manager reckons Connell (calf) is the only one with a realistic chance of making it, though.

Dutton and Bournemouth loanee Cornick are struggling with groin problems, while Wright has visited a chiropractor this week for his back problem.

On a positive note, Ryan Woodford showed against Maidenhead last weekend that he is a more-than- capable replacement for Dutton.

Woodford, recalled from his loan spell at Bognor, gave a composed performance in the heart of the defence.

The Hawks will miss the energy and pace of Cornick going forward, along with his ability to run at defenders.

Up front, Bradbury has greater options, with Bradley Bubb, JJ Hooper and Shamir Mullings vying for a place in the starting line-up.

Josh Huggins is also available to return following his two-match suspension. ‘It is an opportunity for others to come in and make their mark,’ said Bradbury.

‘We are at the business end of the season and we have got 10 cup finals left to play,’ added Bradbury.

‘If we can pick up four points from our next two games away from home we will have done well.

‘There are some big games coming up and it is all about who can put a consistent run of wins together between now and the end of the season.’

Meanwhile, Perry Ryan has left the Hawks to join Vanarama Conference South rivals Farnborough on loan until the end of the season.

Ryan’s loan deal contains a standard recall clause after 28 days.

HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Woodford, Harris, Cummings, Stock, Donnelly, Swallow, Bubb, Hooper, Huggins, Blanchett Connell, Ryan, Monteiro, Cornick