Hawks must be ready as ‘old faces’ return with Gosport

Former Hawks defender Sam Pearce is set to return to Westleigh Park with Gosport Borough. Picture: Dave Haines
Former Hawks defender Sam Pearce is set to return to Westleigh Park with Gosport Borough. Picture: Dave Haines
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The Hawks will need to be wary of their old boys in their Boxing Day Skrill South derby against Gosport Borough at Westleigh Park (3pm).

Borough are likely to include four or five ex-Hawks in their squad.

Goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore will line-up against his former club.

Former Hawks Sam Pearce, Brett Poate, Paul Hinshelwood and Sammy Igoe will also be eager to get one over their old employers.

The points are important for both teams, for different reasons.

Hawks manager Lee Bradbury is targeting a good Christmas period in order to push closer to the play-offs while Borough want to stay out of the bottom three.

Bradbury’s team are unbeaten in their past seven games.

But Gosport are also in good form – having won three league matches on the spin.

Hawks are well aware Borough are showing signs of coming to terms with life in Skrill South.

After knocking Skrill Premier high-flyers Nuneaton Town out of the FA Trophy last week, Borough will arrive with confidence high.

But Bradbury feels it is important not to consider the form guide as a deciding factor for the Boxing Day derby contest.

He said: ‘It is a good derby and on such occasions form goes out the window.

‘Expectation levels will rise and it is an important game for both teams.

‘We know Borough will be coming to us determined to get something from the game and it should be played at a good tempo.

‘There are a few old faces coming back and I will be surprised if they didn’t want to prove a point.

‘Sam Pearce is a case in point because he didn’t get a lot of opportunity in my time here.

‘He wanted to play regularly and when Borough came in for him it was too good an opportunity for him to miss.

‘He has done well of late helping Borough to something like five clean sheets on the bounce.’

Bradbury has been pleased with his own defence in recent weeks.

Ed Harris and Pedro Monteiro look rock solid in the centre.

It is up front where the Hawks may look to have the advantage. The pace of Sahr Kabba and Scott Jones can be a big weapon for Bradbury.

The Hawks also have the powerful presence of big target man Dennis Oli to call on.

Meanwhile, the midfield is likely to be highly competitive.

That is also an area where in-form duo Nigel Atangana and Perry Ryan could give the home side an important advantage.

Bradbury is hoping his men do not push the boat out too much with their celebrations on Christmas Day, though.

He wants them to be fully focused and in top shape for the clash with Gosport.

‘We have to make sure we go out there and produce a professional performance,’ said Bradbury.

‘Players at our level may be tempted to over-indulge over Christmas but I like to think they will look after themselves in the right manner.

‘We can aim all we want to get closer to the play-off places but it is vital that we go out and do our talking on the pitch.’

Full-back Jake Newton is likely to miss out for Hawks with a back injury.

Hawks: Bevan, Blanchett, Cummings, Harris, Monteiro, Strugnell, Atangana, Ryan, Ciardini, Kabba, Jones, Oli, Nanetti, Woodford, Ramsey, Przespolewski, Hutchinson.