Skipper calls for focus as Hawks' Stock rises
Experienced midfielder Brian Stock insists it is all about maintaining focus as the Hawks travel to Merstham in the Ryman League premier division tomorrow (3pm).
The second-placed outfit have games in hand on current league leaders Bognor and Stock wants to see them make it count.
He believes manager Lee Bradbury has put together a good blend of youth and experience in a bid to win promotion back to National League South at the first attempt.
‘In recent games we have shown a great attitude, desire and togetherness to win games,’ said Stock.
‘I don’t think this was evident in the previous 18 months.
‘We have made a huge improvement in our performances away from home and I can only put that down to the spirit in the squad.
‘Since the start of this season we have built on this and got ourselves at the top end of the league.
‘Ever since day one we have been aware that most people have us down as one of the favourites to win the division.
‘That makes us a big target even more so now that we are in the top two.
‘Teams are going to raise their games against us and view us as a big scalp.
‘That is one reason why we must keep our focus at all times and continue working hard. If we stop doing that then things could slip.
‘Our biggest enemy is complacency but I think there is more than enough experience in the squad to guard against that.’
The visitors are boosted by the return of leading goalscorer Jason Prior from a one-match suspension for the game with Merstham.
Prior helped himself to a hat-trick during the week as the Hawks crushed Baffins Milton Rovers 9-0 in the Portsmouth Senior Cup.
A number of players who are knocking on the door for a place in the starting line-up did well, providing Bradbury with some selection problems.
Up front, though, he is likely to stick with in-form Alfie Rutherford who scored twice in the 4-1 win at Staines.
That win briefly took the Westleigh Park side back to the top of the league.
Bognor leapfrogged them again on Tuesday night after beating Harrow Borough 1-0 at Nyewood Lane.
But Stock is backing the Hawks to maintain the pressure by winning at Merstham.
‘We know that we cannot take anything for granted,’ he said.
‘Losing at home to bottom-of-the-league Met Police taught us that and we need to stay on top of our game.
‘We have shown in our last few games a great desire to go out and win.
‘There are a number of good voices in the team who keep everyone on their mettle.
‘Also, recently, we have been better with our decision making.’
Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Harris, Molyneaux, Williams, Stock, Lewis, Robinson, Rutherford, Prior, Fogden, Barker, Swallow, Hayter, Paterson, Tarbuck