Hawks to welcome duo home

Brian Stock
Brian Stock
Craig McAllister. Picture: Keith Woodland

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The Hawks will give home debuts to new signings Brian Stock and Alan Connell in tonight’s Vanarama Conference South contest against Hemel Hempstead at Westleigh Park (7.45pm).

And it’s a prospect manager Lee Bradbury is excited with, after both players did well in the 5-0 win at Farnborough on Saturday.

Bradbury sees the duo as the missing parts of the jigsaw in his bid to launch a renewed bid for the end-of-season play-offs.

He praised both players after their weekend debuts and indicated there is far more still to come.

‘Brian’s vision, quality and quickness of thought on the ball was there for all to see at Farnborough,’ said Bradbury.

‘Up front, Alan’s link play when bringing others into the game was excellent.

‘He didn’t get the goal he deserved, but he will score goals for us.

‘His experience showed and his partnership with Bradley Bubb will cause lots of teams problems.

‘They bounce off each other well and at times the link was almost telepathic.’

The arrival of both experienced Football League players is a massive coup for the Hawks.

Thirty-one-year-old Connell came through the youth academy at Spurs and earned his first professional contract with Ipswich Town.

In 2002 he joined Bournemouth, where he made 50 league appearances.

Spells at Torquay United and Hereford followed, before the striker returned to the Cherries, where he helped them secure promotion to League One.

Connell went on to show his pedigree with Conference National Grimsby Town (25 league goals in 46 appearances) and Swindon Town, who he helped gain promotion to League Two.

Wales international Stock, meanwhile, made 145 league appearances at Bournemouth, before later distinquishing himself at Doncaster Rovers and Burnley.

In 2007-08 he captained Rovers in their play-off final victory over Leeds United at Wembley,

Stock, 32, joined Burnley on a two-year deal in August 2012, joining up with former team-mate Eddie Howe.

‘Circumstances were such that these two landed in our lap and it was too good an opportunity to turn down,’ said Bradbury.

‘They came to the club and were impressed with the facilities and the way we want to play our football.

‘That was a big part of why they signed.

‘It was evident from our early games that we needed a bit more experience in midfield and up front.

‘Now I feel we have quality in strength and depth and competition for places all over the pitch.

‘The players know if they don’t perform there are others breathing down their necks for the shirt.’

Bradbury is keen for his side to carry on the good work against Conference South new-boys Hemel Hempstead.

The visitors, promoted from the Southern League, are still adapting to life at the higher level.

They, however, already have two wins away from home under their belt this term, so Bradbury is expecting a good test.

‘We have to view the next couple of home games as an opportunity to push on,’ said Bradbury.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Stock, Dutton, Harris, Woodford, Ciardini, Donnelly, Bubb, Connell, Huggins, Blanchett, Hooper, Swallow, Mullings, Monteiro, Ryan