Joy for Bradbury as Hawks close gap

Jason Prior. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Jason Prior. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Dave Carter

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Lee Bradbury lauded the Hawks bravery as they reignited the Ryman League premier division title contest with a 2-1 win over Dulwich Hamlet at Westleigh Park on Saturday.

They narrowed the gap on leaders Bognor, who lost 1-0 at Enfield Town, to one point with just four games left.

The two sides lock horns on Easter Monday, with the stage set for a titanic finale.

Bradbury admitted his team had to dig deep as they came from behind to beat Dulwich.

‘We were strong, gutsy and determined out there,’ said the boss.

‘It was an outstanding performance against a very good side.

‘After falling behind in the first half we went out there and gave it a real go.

‘It is the second game in a row we have come from behind to win.

‘It just shows the character we have in our squad and the desire they possess to win the title.

‘We showed terrific energy again and I am a very happy man.

‘For the majority of the second half we were the only team in it and the win was thoroughly deserved.

‘We know we have to try and win every game.’

Dulwich showed right from the start they could pose a serious threat – even though the Hawks created the best openings.

Visiting keeper Preston Edwards denied Jason Prior with a good one-handed save.

The striker also headed wide when maybe he should have done better.

It was Dulwich, however, who struck the first blow just before half-time.

The Hawks defence switched off and allowed a runner from deep to beat their offside trap.

Ibra Sekajja compounded the mistake by thrashing the ball home from an acute angle.

Bradbury said: ‘Their goal was disappointing. We can defend better than that. It gave us a mountain to climb but we came out and scaled the heights.’

Within three minutes of the restart Theo Lewis levelled the scores with a fine looping header.

From then on the Hawks took charge – with wave after wave of attacks.

Finally, with three minutes remaining, substitute George Barker was pulled back in the box and Prior made no mistake with his spot-kick.

In some quarters, the Hawks have been criticised for lacking bottle in big games. Bradbury feels those criticisms have now been firmly answered.

‘We had to go for it and got stronger as the game went on,’ he added.

‘We have shown a lot of bottle. We have clawed back three vital points and it gives a chance for us to kick on.’

A Karl Oliyide goal on the half-hour condemned the Rocks to defeat.

James Fraser almost snatched a point at the death but the home keeper palmed his effort round the post.

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Woodford, Harris, Rose (Molyneaux, 24min), Williams, Stock, Lewis (Barker, 83min), Fogden, Hayter (Rutherford, 64min), Prior. Attendance: 859