‘Perfect’ Hawks still in hunt for Wembley prize

Pedro Monteiro in battle for Hawks against Ebbsfleet. Picture: Dave Haines
Pedro Monteiro in battle for Hawks against Ebbsfleet. Picture: Dave Haines
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Lee Bradbury ranked the Hawks 1-0 FA Trophy triumph over Ebbsfleet at Westleigh Park as ‘their most complete team performance of the season so far’.

Bradbury’s side secured a place in the quarter-finals, courtesy of a second-half goal from man-of-the match Nigel Atangana.

It was no more than they deserved, as they came out on top in a thrilling cup tie.

Bradbury now only hopes that the win achieved in energy-sapping conditions hasn’t taken too much out of his players ahead of tonight’s Skrill South game at Boreham Wood (7.45pm).

‘The team worked so hard for each other and I am absolutely delighted with that,’ said Bradbury.

‘Before the game, I asked for desire, passion, togetherness and all the things I knew we needed against a good team on a heavy pitch.

‘It was difficult for both teams but my players produced all the necessary qualities in abundance.

‘I take my hat off to them because they produced a very professional performance.

‘We were the better side and I thought that 1-0 was a fair result.

‘It was pretty much the perfect performance and our best this season.’

Every single Hawks player put in a hard shift from start to finish but one in particular stamped his class on the game.

Atangana roamed the midfield as if he owned it and Ebbsfleet were never able to contain him.

He was responsible for launching a series of attacks with his accurate and perceptive passing and helping create the best chances.

His non-stop running also saw him break up a lot of Ebbsfleet’s attacking intentions at source.

‘Nigel’s fitness levels are phenomenal and he gets around the pitch so well,’ said Bradbury.

‘He ticks a lot of boxes and thoroughly deserved his goal.

‘The lad has great vision and has been a real find for us.’

To their credit Ebbsfleet came to win the tie and although the first half remained goalless there was no lack of entertainment.

Chances fell to both teams, with the visitors going closest on the stroke of half-time when Anthony Cook saw his thunderous shot hit the post.

There was no let up in the tempo after the break and on 61 minutes the Hawks grabbed the decisive goal.

Christian Nanetti swung in a near-post corner and Atangana reacted quickly to hook his shot into the net.

Having gained the advantage, Bradbury’s men then fought hard to keep it.

The Kent visitors threw everything at them in the final 10 minutes but were held at bay.

Pedro Monteiro and Ed Harris were magnificent in the heart of the Hawks defence to help their team move one step closer to a Wembley final.

Hawks: Bevan, Strugnell (Newton 80mins), Blanchett, Ryan, Monteiro, Harris, Nanetti (Ramsey 80mins), Atangana, Oli, Kabba, Jones (Przespolewski 75mins). Sub: Woodford, Hutchinson.

Att: 709