Hawks must be ready to stand up and be counted

Tony Taggart in action against Farnborough
Tony Taggart in action against Farnborough
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Gosport have taken a lift from Craig McAllister's leadership. Picture: Keith Woodland

Gosport encouraged ahead of Redditch trip

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Lee Bradbury believes the Hawks must be prepared to slug it out in their Blue Square Bet South clash at Billericay Town (3pm).

The Westleigh Park boss is expecting a physical challenge that will further test the resilience of his team.

Bradbury began his reign with a good win at Basingstoke.

But last weekend’s home defeat at the hands of Farnborough was a disappointment.

‘Billericay are a hard-working outfit who like to put opponents under pressure and pin you back early on,’ said Bradbury.

‘We have to go there and be prepared to stand up to that from the start.

‘I see it being very similar to Basingstoke where we showed in the final 20 minutes our defensive qualities.

‘They threw everything at us but the players put their bodies on their line because of their determination to win.

‘In the first half, though, we hadn’t done enough and the big challenge at Billericay is to go from the first whistle.

‘I’ve been told the pitch is not too good, so we will want to play in the opposition half and give them a threat.

‘We have to win the battles to earn the right to play.

The Hawks can go to Essex with a degree of confidence because their record on their travels is good.

They have only lost once away from home all season, frequently picking up draws.

That is the minimum Bradbury wants from the Billericay trip.

The manager looks set to have a full squad at his disposal.

Full-back Chris Arthur and holding midfielder Eddie Hutchinson are set to return from injury and central-defender Ryan Woodford is back after a one-match ban.

The strength and power of Arthur and his powerful runs up the wing can be a big bonus.

He has been missed in recent weeks, with the Hawks looking vulnerable on the flanks.

Bradbury is adamant the Hawks must avoid being penned back in the early stages.

He wants them to get on top of the home side from the opening whistle.

A key aspect for the former Pompey striker is to improve the way the Hawks defend from set-plays.

‘If you can get your noses in front then, nine times out of 10, you get something,’ said Bradbury.

‘It would make Billericay come onto us a bit more and with the pace we have up front we could hurt them on the break.

‘This team has been resilient away from home and I want to see more of that.

‘For me it is about consistency, keeping a clean sheet and getting a foothold in the game early on.’

HAWKS: Masters, Newton, Harris, Page, Arthur, Roberts, Ramsey, Hutchinson, Bailey, Nanetti, Taggart, Palmer, Jones, Moss, Kabba, Hinshelwood, Ryan, Woodford, Pearce