Hawks' Dartford trip '˜massively influential in title race'

THE HAWKS know the trip to leaders Dartford could have big implications for the title race in the Vanarama National League South.

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 2:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 2:15 pm
Matt Tubbs has been in scoring form for the Hawks
Matt Tubbs has been in scoring form for the Hawks

A titanic tussle is predicted between the two sides level on points at the top when they meet on Saturday (3pm).

Dartford have lost just once at home this season and the Hawks have only been beaten once on their travels.

Bradbury’s side also boast a 12-game unbeaten record in the league, stretching back to the beginning of October.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The two sides fought out a 0-0 draw at Westleigh Park in their first meeting at the start of the season.

Everything points to another close-fought encounter with little between the two teams.

Bradbury was delighted with the character the Hawks showed in their 3-2 home win against Oxford City.

He predicts the same application will be needed at Princes Park.

‘These are the sort of games you want to be involved in as a player and manager,’ said the Hawks manager.

‘The title won’t be won or lost in this one game but it is still massively influential.

‘Both teams are at the top for a reason and it has all the makings of being a great advert for our league.

‘For us it is important we come back with something.

‘There will be more pressure on Dartford because they are at home and also because we are level on points with them with a game in hand.

‘We know they will come at us and we will need to be solid and organised to deal with that.

‘At the moment we are in a good place, losing just once in our last 17 games.

‘Defensively we are solid and up front we have Matt Tubbs scoring eight goals in his last eight games.’

Bradbury is boosted by the return of full-back Rory Williams from his two-game suspension.

Williams is expected to come straight back into the starting line-up with youngster Charley Tuttle dropping to the bench.

Tuttle has shown plenty of promise in his two games but the Hawks are almost certain to opt for the greater experience of Williams in such a big game.

Williams offers a greater attacking threat with his marauding runs down the wing and he has excellent delivery of the ball.

‘Rory is a big player for us with his pace and crossing ability,’ added the Hawks boss.

‘Charley has done well and is only 19 years old.

‘He will only get better as he gains confidence and self-belief.’

Bradbury has a full squad with Brian Stock, Alfie Rutherford and Dan Strugnell all back from injury.

Rutherford went on as a second-half substitute against Oxford City and looked back to his lively best.

Hawks: Young, Rose, Woodford, Harris, Williams, Fogden, Carter, Lewis, Tarbuck, Robinson, Prior, Tubbs, Strugnell, Stock, Rutherford, Molyneux, Hayter, Walker-Harris