Hawks must rise to the challenge against Ebbsfleet United

Adrian Clifton. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Adrian Clifton. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Mark Smith comes close to to scoring for Horndean against Blackfield.  Picture: Keith Woodland

Birmingham: Deans should have beaten Blackfield

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Injury-hit Hawks face a huge test of their resolve against Vanarama National League South leaders Ebbsfleet United tomorrow at Westleigh Park (3pm).

The unbeaten Kent side boast a 100-per-cent record away from home, winning all five games on the road.

He showed that he is an intelligent footballer and knew what he was doing

Lee Bradbury

Lee Bradbury is hoping Adrian Clifton, Dan Strugnell and Matt Paterson can shake off groin strains picked up against Whitehawk in midweek.

The Hawks conceded twice in the final seven minutes against the Sussex visitors to lose out 3-2 in an entertaining contest.

‘This is not the best time for us to take on the league leaders, but we have to step up to the challenge,’ said Bradbury.

‘We will be tested to the full but I expect the players to rise to the challenge.

‘It is important we don’t shrink away from it and are ready to go again.

‘Whitehawk were a very good side and I felt we played well against them for long spells.

‘We paid the price for being too naive in the closing stages and hopefully can learn from it.’

Bradbury will include new arrivals Rommy Boco and Lanre Azeez in the squad again after they made their debuts as second-half substitutes against Whitehawk.

Pompey loanee Boco looked an accomplished player with a neat second-half cameo before he tired in the latter stages.

With greater match fitness he looks as though he could be a real asset in his time with the Hawks.

‘He showed that he is an intelligent footballer and knew what he was doing,’ said Bradbury.

‘Once he gets a few more games under his belt he will be even more effective.

‘He started off sharp but he had already trained with Pompey in the morning so understandably faded a bit.’

Bradbury knows his side will need to improve in one or two areas if they are to upset Ebbsfleet.

At times against Whitehawk, striker Paterson was isolated on his own up front with Shamir Mullings and Marvin Morgan too deep in support.

Mullings can feel more than a little aggrieved at having an early header wrongly ruled out for offside.

He had other chances later on, though, which he failed to take.

The Hawks will have to keep their focus throughout the match.

‘This is a game where we will have to apply ourselves and not lose our concentration,’ said Bradbury.

‘Our aim is to go out and try to end Ebbsfleet’s unbeaten record. We will need to show some of the quality we have in our team.

‘If we approach the game in the right manner there is no reason we can’t do it.’

Hawks: Young, Medway, Strugnell, Monthe, Cummings, Stock, Donnelly, Boco, Azeez, Clifton, Paterson, Mullings, Morgan, Hayter, Blanchett, Swallow, Searle