Ritchie aims for perfect start

Hawks striker Ryan Moss    Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks striker Ryan Moss Picture: Dave Haines
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Stuart Ritchie is hoping his new-look Hawks lay a down a marker as they host Chelmsford City in his first competitive game in charge at Westleigh Park (3pm).

The former AFC Totton boss took charge of the Blue Square Bet South side over the summer and is keen to get off to a winning start in the curtain-raiser to the new season.

Victory would set the team up nicely for the campaign ahead and give the Hawks the platform to build towards Ritchie’s aim of challenging for promotion.

‘It is a tough start but we must look to go into it with all guns blazing,’ said Ritchie, who has invested heavily in strengthening the Hawks’ first-team squad.

‘Chelmsford will present a stiff test but it is important we come out of the game with something.

‘It will show us where we are.

‘We have had a good pre-season – even though it has been disrupted a little by the weather, injuries and illness.

‘At times I have not been able to try things out because key players have been missing.

‘The players have worked hard and things are starting to take shape.

‘We feel the players we have brought in have strengthened the spine of the team.

‘Now it is a case of getting them to knit together and we have seen that happening in recent games.’

The Hawks could have as many as six players making their league debut against their Essex visitors.

Goalkeeper Clark Masters, central defenders Sam Page and Ed Harris, midfielder Stefan Bailey and strikers Sahr Kabba and Ryan Moss all arrived during the summer.

However, Kabba – who has been in rich goalscoring vein in pre-season – is a doubt after limping off against Llanelli last week with a groin problem.

Moss, though, put himself in the frame to start by scoring twice after coming off the bench in the 2-1 win over the Welsh side.

And with Ollie Palmer and Scott Jones also available up front, Ritchie has plenty to choose from in attacking areas.

At the back, the defence has looked very assured in their preparations for the new season.

Page and Harris have impressed, looking a secure pairing in the middle.

The midfield could be an area of concern, though, with Ritchie admitting he could do with a little more time to bed players in.

‘It will be interesting to see how the midfield goes, although they are all good players in there,’ he added.

‘Christian Nanetti has missed a couple of games and Stefan hasn’t been with us long.

‘We are all looking forward to getting started.’

Hawks: Masters, Newton, Arthur, Page, Harris, Hutchinson, Ramsey, Bailey, Nanetti, Palmer, Moss, Kabba, Taggart, Pearce, Jones, Pegler, Whyte, Woodford