Hawks told to tighten up

Ryan Woodford is pushing for a recall this weekend Picture: Dave Haines
Ryan Woodford is pushing for a recall this weekend Picture: Dave Haines
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Careless Hawks need to tighten up as they host Hampshire rivals Basingstoke Town in Blue Square Bet South at Westleigh Park (3pm).

Two defensive howlers cost Shaun Gale’s side in midweek as they crashed to a 3-2 derby defeat at Eastleigh.

Gale knows his side cannot afford to do the same against Basingstoke as they look for a win to move them further away from the drop-zone.

The desire to shore up the backline could mean a recall for young defender Ryan Woodford, who was in good form before he lost his place after a bout of illness.

‘Once again, we showed ourselves to be our own worst enemies on Tuesday night,’ said Gale.

‘You can’t afford to give anyone a two-goal start in our league and we have to eradicate the mistakes.

‘We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and it is to the players’ credit that they almost pulled it off.

‘When you concede poor goals, you need to look at things and we do have good competition for places at the back.

‘If players are making mistakes, sometimes they need to come out of the side for a bit.

‘That happened with Sam Pearce earlier in the season and he came back looking a totally different player.

‘It is a difficult one because, apart from the mistakes, Chris Holland and Pearce didn’t do a lot wrong.

‘Unfortunately, gifting the opposition goals has been a trait of ours this season.

‘Ryan has been patient, though, and very nearly got in the side at Eastleigh.’

Gale admits the Hawks have drawn too many games this season and they need to pick up all three points against a Basingstoke side who are eight points ahead of them in the table.

A win will help ease the pressure on Gale’s men, who then face a string of away games against top sides, including Chelmsford City, Dorchester Town and Welling United.

But a draw or a defeat tomorrow will leave the Hawks looking anxiously over their shoulder at the chasing clubs who are starting to pick up points.

‘It’s a big three points on offer,’ said Gale.

‘We want to make home advantage count and close the gap on Basingstoke.

‘At the end of the season, we don’t want to be fighting at the wrong end of the table looking to scrounge points to survive.

‘We are targeting three points which would give us the momentum we are looking for.

‘It won’t be easy because Basingstoke are a very good side.’

Midfielder Bobby Hopkinson serves the last game of his three-match suspension and Gale has injury doubts over a few players.

Young striker Dan Thompson, on loan from Pompey, is still rated as very doubtful after getting injured against Hampton & Richmond, while Chris Arthur is struggling with a groin strain.

Scott Jones is another doubt after picking up a calf injury in midweek.

Craig Braham-Barrett, Sammy Igoe and Harvey Whyte are waiting in the wings if required.

Hawks: Beazley, Newton, Woodford, Pearce, Holland, McDonald, Ryan, Hinshelwood, Ramsey, Arthur, Jones, Palmer, Braham-Barrett, Igoe, Whyte, Thompson.