Hawks look forward to friendly Pompey test

New Hawks recruit Ben Swallow, right
New Hawks recruit Ben Swallow, right
Alex Pike. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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Lee Bradbury has urged the Hawks players to go out and enjoy the occasion against Pompey at Westleigh Park tomorrow (3pm).

The annual visit of the Football League outfit is always the highlight of the Conference South side’s pre-season friendlies.

Every year the game generates a lot of interest and brings a sizeable crowd to the ground.

This year the match has some added spice with the return of French midfielder Nigel Atangana who has made the move to Fratton Park.

Bradbury believes it is a big day for the club.

‘The visit from Portsmouth is always something we look forward to,’ said Bradbury.

‘The Portsmouth followers always support the occasion, and come to the ground in numbers.

‘This is important to us and helps us out on the revenue front.

‘I think Andy Awford has made some good signings, and I expect them to be there or thereabouts at the top of League Two.’

The Hawks opened up their pre-season campaign with a 3-0 win at Wessex League premier division side Horndean on Monday night.

After that game, Bradbury moved to sign Bromley winger Ben Swallow who will make his Westleigh Park debut tomorrow.

The 24-year-old attacking wide player has Football League experience with Bristol Rovers.

He was also a member of the Newport County squad who gained promotion from the Conference Premier.

Last season he didn’t get as much game time at Bromley as he would have liked.

‘I have seen enough of Ben to know he can bring real quality to our side,’ said Bradbury.

‘He can play on the left or right of midfield and on either side of a main striker.

‘The lad is tricky, likes to take defenders on and get shots off on goal.

‘He is a very exciting prospect.’

The arrival of Swallow and the absence of Christian Nanetti in the named squad suggests the Italian winger could be on his way out of Westleigh Park.

Nanetti was transfer listed at the start of the summer by Bradbury, before the manager made a surprise U-turn to include him in his plans just a week later.

Bradbury expects to include all his new signings for the tough test against Portsmouth.

With the Westleigh Park pitch looking picture perfect, both teams should be able to get the ball down and play.

Bradbury also expects the Hawks to get a lot out of the game whatever the result.

Pompey are likely to have plenty of the ball and the Westleigh Park side could be doing some chasing.

But that will benefit them as they step up preparations for their difficult start to the new Conference South season.

‘First and foremost playing against full-time professionals will get the fitness levels up,’ said Bradbury.

‘We can expect to work hard during periods when we don’t have the ball.

‘It is also another chance to integrate newcomers into our system and the way we want to play.

‘In games like this I can find out about players when they are being stretched and put under pressure,’

Hawks: Young, Bevan, Searle, Huggins, Harris, Woodford, Strugnell, Monteiro, Cummins, Blanchett, Dutton, Donnelly, Ryan, Wedlake, Swallow, JJ Hooper, Bubb, Ciardini, Jones, Bradbury.