Youthful Hawks on course to retain cup

Dan Blanchett, left. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Dan Blanchett, left. Picture: Allan Hutchings
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The Hawks remain on course to retain the Portsmouth Senior Cup following a comfortable 2-0 win over United Services Portsmouth at Burnaby Road tonight.

First-half goals from Dan Blanchett and Jake Gale fired the visitors into the semi-finals.

For manager Lee Bradbury, it offered the opportunity to run the rule over a number of his squad’s youngsters.

And the Hawks boss was able to take plenty of positives from the victory, including several impressive performances from youth-team players – with 17-year-old defender Tom Cain singled out for praise.

Bradbury said: ‘It proved a really good exercise from our point of view.

‘Four or five of our first team squad got 90 minutes and five or six of the youth team lads did really well.

‘Seventeen-year-old defender Tom Cain started the game and impressed throughout.

‘It was a great chance for some of our youngsters, a few who are still in our academy side, to get some game time alongside some of the senior players.

‘That has got to good for them.

‘United Services put us under some pressure and forced us to make decisions which was good.

‘For us it is another win and a clean sheet.

‘We hit the woodwork and on another night could have scored a few more.’

The Hawks fielded just one first-team starter from the weekend, Scott Donnelly who captained the side.

After a quiet opening, the Sailors gifted the Hawks a 10th-minute lead.

Hawks full-back Blanchett latched onto a poor pass in the home defence, rounded a defender and slipped the ball into the net.

Soon after, Donnelly fired a decent chance over the bar following a neat back-heel from Liam Kimber.

The Hawks extended their lead on 15 minutes when they hit the Sailors with a quick counter-attack.

Young striker Gale timed his run perfectly to latch onto a measured forward pass from Shamir Mullings.

Gale maintained excellent composure to take the ball past the advancing goalkeeper Pete Houkes and slotted home.

The visitors remained comfortable for the rest of the half after making their superior finishing count.

Hawks goalkeeper Charlie Searle was forced to save on his line as the Wessex League division one hosts looked to strike back early at the start of the second half.

Gale went close to adding to his tally with a header that dropped wide.

Houkes prevented his team from falling further behind with a good save to turn a Mulling’s shot on the turn round the post.

On 64 minutes, the visitors sent on young academy player Dan Penfold for Donnelly.

Mulling’s continued to be a threat and he twice went close to increasing the visitors lead.

First Houkes saved at his feet as he tried to take the ball past the goalkeeper and then the striker crashed a shot against the crossbar.

The Hawks will continue their quest for National League South points on Saturday at Dartford (3pm).

United Services Portsmouth: Houkes, Sharratt, Clark, Jones S, Warwick, Snelling, Rolfe, Cuthbert, Coker, Silvanus, Lines. Subs: Bush, Ward, Braithwaite, Best

Hawks: Searle C, Medway, Blanchett, Donnelly, Cain, Monteiro, Thomson, Ridge, Mullings, Gale, Kimber. Subs: Penfold, Fripp, McCrossan, Ciardini