Hawks hope to avoid a Mare for third time

Ollie Palmer's form has been affected by other clubs' interest, according to Shaun Gale     Picture: Dave Haines
Ollie Palmer's form has been affected by other clubs' interest, according to Shaun Gale Picture: Dave Haines
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Hawks manager Shaun Gale needs a big response from his players as they look to make it third time lucky against Weston-super-Mare in the Blue Square Bet South at Westleigh Park.

The Seagulls have already beaten the Hawks twice this season, once in the league and again in the FA Cup, and the home side are desperate to avoid a hat-trick of defeats.

The Hawks also need to pick themselves up off the floor following their demoralising FA Trophy replay exit in midweek at the hands of Southern premier outfit Weymouth.

Gale’s side will start the weekend in 15th place, just four points above the drop-zone, and another damaging defeat would set the alarm bells ringing.

Worryingly for the Hawks, the goals have dried up, with just one scored in the past five games. It is a trend the home side must look to reverse.

‘We need to get back to scoring goals,’ said Gale.

‘Against Weymouth, I didn’t think the performance was poor. It was all about taking chances and we didn’t do that.

‘It’s not just down to the strikers but others need to start chipping in.

‘That includes our central defenders from set-pieces and midfield.

‘It hasn’t helped that our supply lines have been disrupted at times by injury and Craig Braham-Barrett is still doubtful this weekend.

‘This is a big game for us and it is important that we pick up three points.’

Gale added: ‘We want to go into the Christmas period in a stronger position.

‘Weston may have beaten us twice but in both games we were in control for long spells.

‘In the league game we should have been out of sight by half-time, only to shoot ourselves in the foot – and we led in the FA Cup tie, too.’

Gale’s options up front are again limited by injuries to key players.

There is a chance that Scott Jones (calf) and Lee Peacock (hamstring) could both be missing and that would leave Gale with just one striker in Ollie Palmer.

Vincent Pericard is also unlikely to be available.

Palmer is looking to regain the form that saw him score eight goals in eight games, which led to Football League scouts flocking to watch him.

Gale believes the attention has had a detrimental effect.

‘Ollie is a level-headed 19-year-old but having all that attention is going to effect anyone,’ said Gale.

‘It is a lot of added pressure and in the past few games his inexperience has shown.

‘He needs to forget about all the speculation and get back to scoring goals.’

One of the few positives to come out of the FA Trophy defeat was the re-appearance of midfielder Bobby Hopkinson as a second-half substitute.

It was the first senior appearance for Hopkinson – who was on loan at Horndean earlier this season – since he suffered a horrendous broken ankle just over a year ago.

Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Holland, Woodford, McDonald, Hinshelwood, Igoe, Ramsey, Ryan, Hopkinson, Peacock, Palmer, Jones, Geteski, Whyte, Pearce, Norton.