Hawks to prove plastic fantastic at Eastbourne
Lee Bradbury is backing the Hawks to make a flying start to the Christmas period by completing a National League South double over Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane on Saturday (3pm).
The Hawks beat the Sussex side 3-2 at Westleigh Park at the beginning of the season.
Now the challenge is to repeat the feat on Borough’s 3G pitch – which was installed at the start of last term.
Eastbourne have struggled on the surface – winning just three of their 10 league games this season.
Bradbury, meanwhile, will be boosted by an almost full-strength squad to choose from going into the holiday fixtures.
Brian Stock and Dan Strugnell both returned to action on Tuesday against Paulsgrove in the Portsmouth Senior Cup.
With two derbies against Bognor to follow, Bradbury believes the visit to Eastbourne is a good opportunity for the Hawks to maintain their promotion push.
The Westleigh Park outfit go into the game in fourth spot – only two points adrift of leaders Dartford with a game in hand.
Having suffered just one away defeat so far, Bradbury believes his side are capable of getting another good result at Eastbourne.
He has been quick to shrug off fears surrounding Borough’s 3G surface.
Instead, the manager is determined to see the Hawks to bounce back from their FA Trophy disappointment at the hands of Billericay Town last weekend.
It was another fixture Bradbury’s side dominated – but failed to make their chances count.
‘We have to be happy where we are at his stage but must look to push on from here,’ said the boss.
‘It is important we make the most of all the good work already done.
‘We have an important three games over Christmas.
‘I am looking for us to try to win all three and see where it takes us.
‘There is no doubt they will all be tough.
‘Eastbourne are always well organised and well set-up.
‘Last year in the Ryman premier we had a good record playing on 3G pitches.
‘We also train on 3G every week so it is not something that is totally alien to us.
‘Then there are two derbies against Bognor – and we all know the form guide can go out the window in those games.’
The return of Strugnell and Stock to the squad will strengthen Bradbury’s hand.
Both came through the midweek cup tie without suffering any setbacks and are included in the squad for the trip to Sussex.
However, striker Alfie Rutherford is still ruled out by injury and remains a couple of weeks away from returning to the fold.
‘There is a possibility Alfie could return against his old club Bognor on New Year’s Day,’ added Bradbury.
‘We have to be careful, however, that we don’t rush him back too soon.’
Hawks: Young, Robinson, Woodford, Rose, Williams, Carter, Fogden, Lewis, Tarbuck, Prior, Tubbs, Harris, Strugnell, Stock, Widdrington, Barker, Hayter, Molyneaux, Walker-Harris