HAWKS boss Shaun Gale lauded his ‘magnificent’ players after they eased the growing pressure on his shoulders with a dramatic 2-1 win over Maidenhead at Westleigh Park.
Things looked bleak for the Hawks, and for manager Gale, after Bobby Hopkinson was red carded and the home side then found themselves 1-0 down on the hour.
But the amazing turnaround started when substitute Ryan Woodford thumped home a header from a corner and, two minutes from time, Scott Jones held his nerve to fire into the far corner.
‘Going down to 10 men made it very difficult for us but we stuck with the game plan at the start of the second half,’ said Gale.
‘The disappointing thing was to go a goal down and most people at that stage would have banked on Maidenhead getting all three points..
‘As a manager you have to make choices and tactically I then made the decision to go three at the back and it worked.
‘The players were magnificent and they deserve all the plaudits because they put in the effort and desire I asked from them.
‘They got a terrific result out of it.
‘The important thing was to bounce back from what was a very disappointing performance and result last week.
‘We remained positive and I picked a side of 11 players who I thought would go out and run through a brick wall for themselves and this football club.
‘That’s what they did, they worked their socks off.
‘I have great belief and trust in my players.
‘Even when we went down to 10 men I knew if we kept our shape we could still win the game.
‘At times this side has been criticised, and rightly so, for a lack of character but they can all look in the mirror and say they gave their all.’
Jones saw an early effort tipped onto the near post but neither side took command in the first half.
Ex-Hawks striker Manny Williams went closest for the visitors, midway through the half.
But he narrowly failed to get a touch to Mark Nisbet’s low ball across the six-yard box.
The odds swung in favour of the visitors a minute before the break when Hopkinson lunged into a two-footed tackle on Williams and was shown a straight red card.
Maidenhead made the breakthrough on the hour. A ricochet inside the area left striker Alex Wall with a simple side-foot finish.
At that stage, manager Shaun Gale, must have felt he was staring down the barrel of a gun.
Another home defeat may have proved one too many for Gale.
But unlike the previous week against Dartford, the Hawks showed plenty of fighting spirit.
Substitute Woodford levelled 17 minutes from time and at the death Jones latched onto Chris Holland’s forward ball to steer a shot into the far corner to win the game.
‘It was important because of our position that we got three points,’ said Gale.
‘At the end of the day I am here to do the job and have every faith in both mine and the players ability to do it.
‘We know that we have underachieved at times and we know the reasons why.
‘I am going to keep working as hard as I do for this football club week in, week out until someone tells me any different.
‘I put pressure on myself because I want to win more than anyone.
‘If it eases pressure because I have won one game that’s up to other people to decide.’
Hawks: Beazley 7; Newton 7, McDonald 7 (Thompson 71mins), Hinshelwood 7, Holland 8, Pearce 7 (Woodford 65mins), Ryan 8, Ramsey 8, Jones 8, Hopkinson 6, Arthur 8