Oxford exam is toughest yet for Hawks

Bradley Bubb in action for the Hawks last season. Picture: Allan Hutchings (150128-718)
Bradley Bubb in action for the Hawks last season. Picture: Allan Hutchings (150128-718)
Ryan Pennery

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Lee Bradbury has warned the Hawks they face their toughest test yet in the Vanarama National League South as they prepare to host Oxford City at Westleigh Park tomorrow (3pm).

The visitors, who moved across from the northern division at the end of last term, have made an unbeaten start to the season.

They have won both their away games – at Maidstone and St Albans City – and will pose a huge threat.

Bradbury has been pleased to see his team find some form with a win and a draw after two consecutive defeats.

But he believes the Hawks will need to improve again to get the better of the newcomers.

‘I watched Oxford recently and they have a lot of pace,’ said the boss.

‘It will be our toughest test so far this season.

‘They like to play expansive football, although they are not the biggest team in the league.

‘We will need to be on our toes because they attack and counter-attack at pace.

‘Because they take a lot of risks, it means they can leave themselves exposed which gives us a chance to hurt them.

‘With their winning start they will arrive full of confidence, though.’

Oxford also possess one other factor which the Hawks will need to be wary – the return of an ex-player intent on making his point.

Striker Bradley Bubb was released by the Westleigh Park outfit at the end of last season.

So far this term he has rediscovered his goal touch – scoring in three of City’s opening four games.

‘We know all about Bradley and on his day he can cause lots of problems,’ said Bradbury.

‘He will almost certainly be keen to show us we were wrong to let him go.

‘That will give him a massive extra incentive and we have to deal with that.’

The Hawks continue to be plagued by injuries – with central defender Lee Molyneaux the latest to be added to the long-term casualty list.

He is likely to miss two or three months due to ligament damage.

Experienced defender Ed Harris is still at least a couple of weeks away from a return, while midfielder Brian Stock remains a doubt.

Bradbury would love to have Stock in contention against Oxford but admits he has to weigh up the risks.

‘We will assess Brian and then make a decision,’ said the boss.

‘As much as we need him back, it would be foolish to rush and end up without him for a longer spell.’

Non-contract defender Manny Monthe looks set to keep his place beside Brian Dutton in the heart of the defence.

Veteran Pedro Monteiro is included in the squad as cover.

HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Monthe, Blanchett, Donnelly, Clifton, Stock, Hayter, Ciardini, Swallow, Paterson, Morgan, Cummings, Medway, Monteiro