Hawks urged to pass test of belief

Lee Bradbury. Picture: Dave Haines
Lee Bradbury. Picture: Dave Haines
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Lee Bradbury told his players to keep believing after they failed to last the course at Bishop’s Stortford.

The Hawks conceded two goals in the last five minutes to crash to a 2-1 Skrill South defeat.

Bradbury was left frustrated and bitterly disappointed by the two set-piece strikes.

It was a day he will want to forget quickly after he saw his best-laid plans decimated by injury and illness before the kick-off.

During the morning he lost striker Dennis Oli to tonsillitis and then experienced full-back Jake Newton with a hamstring injury.

To cap it all, goalkeeper Scott Bevan damaged a knuckle during the warm up which meant rookie academy goalkeeper Charlie Searle found himself making his senior debut.

Searle, 18 today, performed with a maturity beyond his years and the manager was quick to praise the contribution of his young keeper.

‘Charlie Searle did fantastic for a young kid thrown in at the deep end,’ said Bradbury.

‘I am gutted to come away with nothing after dominating large parts of the game.

‘Two long balls have undone us and we have picked up even more injuries in a physical game.

‘We have paid a heavy price for two individual errors when we failed to mark and pick runners up properly.

‘I expect us to be stronger with that and we have to deal with it.

‘I don’t like losing especially to football like that. We have to keep believing in what we are doing in passing the ball and trying to play the game the right way.’

After weathering an early storm the Hawks grew in confidence throughout the first half.

Christian Nanetti broke down the left and with the home defence backing off, he smashed a low drive underneath keeper Joe Wright.

The visitors then had a purple patch before the interval with Perry Ryan and Nic Ciardini seeing efforts cleared off the goalline.

Ryan went close again in the second half with a shot that thumped back off the outside of the near post.

The Hawks’ misfortune continued, however, as they were forced to replace Ryan, Pedro Monteiro and Ed Harris through injury.

The loss of the latter two imposing defenders was to prove particularly damaging.

Stortford sensed blood and four minutes from time Sean Francis rose above the defence to plant his header home from a free-kick.

With just two of the seven added minutes remaining, George Sykes produced an almost carbon copy to leave the Hawks on their knees.

Bradbury now faces a race against time in the next 48 hours to get his walking wounded ready for the rearranged game against Farnborough at Westleigh Park on Wednesday.

‘We have picked up another five injuries, so we will face another big test to our reslience,’ said Bradbury.