Relief for Hawks after overdue Matt finish
The Hawks held their nerve to beat Basingstoke Town 1-0 in the National League South at Westleigh Park.
Matt Paterson struck three minutes before the final whistle to sink their fellow strugglers and net invaluable points in the relegation battle.
Paterson, who had not scored in the league for more than three months, could not have picked a better time to end his goal drought.
The visitors looked likely to escape with a point from the close-fought encounter until Paterson finally broke their resistance with his late winner.
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury was pleased with the way his team kept going right to the very end.
‘We produced a gutsy performance to grind out a win,’ he said.
‘It was always going to be that type of game on a pitch that was like a ploughed field after 20 minutes.
‘We had to play a different way to what we may have liked but in the end it is an important three points.
‘I thought from front to back we worked hard together and on another day could have scored a couple of more goals.
‘It was a day for grafting and I felt we did that. That is what it is going to take.
‘I have said to the players we have a mini-season of 19 games and must look to win as many as we can.
‘That is just the first win of many we need to start climbing the table. It is important we take the same energy, desire and commitment into the game against Bishop’s Stortford tomorrow.’
With both teams starting the day in the bottom three, it wasn’t surprising the first half proved tentative.
The best of the chances fell to the Hawks but neither side could find a breakthrough.
The visitors then missed a big chance to grab the initiative on 75 minutes.
Former Hawks player Jay Gasson fired straight at goalkeeper Ryan Young after finding himself unmarked eight yards out.
And the hosts made the most of that let-off when Scott Donnelly threaded a pin-point pass through to Paterson.
The striker kept his composure and drilled his shot across goal and into the bottom corner of the net.
Bradbury said: ‘I’m really pleased for Matt, who has missed a few chances and was left out of the team recently.
‘He came back in because James Hayter has flu and showed his desire to score.’
Paterson may have taken the plaudits but the win was built on the solid performance of the back four.
Pompey loanee Jack Whatmough made his first start in almost nine months and was immense.
Fellow centre-back Josh Hill did not put a foot wrong all afternoon, either, as the duo helped the Hawks to their first clean sheet in the league since September.
Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Stock, Whatmough, Hill, Ciardini (Swallow, 63min), Donnelly, Mullings (Morgan, 78min), Paterson (Molyneaux, 89min), Lewis.