Hawks opt for blend of youth and experience

Charlie Searle Picture: Neil Marshall
Charlie Searle Picture: Neil Marshall
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The Hawks continue their defence of the Portsmouth Senior Cup against US Portsmouth at Burnaby Road tonight (7.45pm).

Lee Bradbury’s men beat the Sailors’ reserves 7-0 in the last round and will start as favourites to see off their Wessex division one hosts.

The visitors are again expecting to field a blend of youth and experience.

‘This is a trophy we would like to retain,’ said Bradbury

‘The whole purpose of entering it was to give some of the youngsters an opportunity to integrate with the senior side.

‘It also provides a chance to get some minutes into the players who have found themselves on the fringes.

‘We have got some good youngsters at the club who have been out on loan learning their trade.

‘This is a chance for them to come back and show what they have learned.

‘It is a big gap between youth and first-team football and this helps provide a bit of a bridge between the two.’

Keeper Charlie Searle and other youngsters Jake Gale, Marley Ridge and Liam Kimber, return to the squad.

Sailors boss Bob Brady knows his team face a tough test but believes they can prove competitive.

‘If we can get everybody there then we might be able to spring a few surprises in certain areas,’ said Brady.

‘I have been playing the game down and trying to get the team to treat it just like any other game.

‘Recently, we have played well in some games and poorly in others but, hopefully, we can make something happen in this one.’

Meanwhile, the Hawks have been drawn at home to Forest Green Rovers in the first round of the FA Trophy.

Bognor face a trip to Maidstone United.

Bradbury added: At least we have home advantage in another big cup occasion.

‘It is another opportunity for us to test ourselves against a good team full of good players.

‘There will be no pressure on us because nobody apart from ourselves will give us a chance.’

Moneyfields have been forced to switch their Russell-Cotes Cup tie to Ringwood Town (7.45pm).

‘We will use this as part of our preparations for our FA Vase tie that is coming up soon,’ said boss Dave Carter.