Hawks warned hard work is only beginning

Lee Bradbury watched his Hawks hit the summit of National League South and then warned: The hard work starts now.

Monday, 12th March 2018, 5:00 am
Jason Prior. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171689-1)

The Westleigh Park outfit claimed a 1-0 win at Oxford City on Saturday – with Jason Prior getting the decisive goal.

The triumph saw the Hawks leapfrog Dartford and take pole position in the title race – with the luxury of a game in hand on their closest rivals.

But following an 11th away success of the campaign, Bradbury knows the challenge now facing his troops has changed.

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The Hawks boss said: ‘It is nice to be where we are and we should enjoy it.

‘At the same time it means little at this stage of the season – apart from we are now there to be shot at.

‘We must make sure we don’t make the mistake of thinking the job is done now.

‘The players know that they have to maintain the standards that have got us here.

‘We have managed to put ourselves in the driving seat but the hard work starts now.

‘If we can pick up an average of two points every game from here on then we will win the title.

‘That is our focus but there will be plenty of twists and turns between now and the end of the season.’

The Hawks started on the front foot at Oxford City applying early pressure on the 3G surface.

Bradley Tarbuck forced a fine save from the home goalkeeper with a well-struck effort from 20 yards.

And while City came more into the game, the Hawks made the vital breakthrough in first-half stoppage-time.

A corner was driven low into the home box and Prior was on hand to net from point-blank range.

‘It was a real poachers goal,’ added Bradbury.

‘In a game of few chances it was to prove crucial. All in all, though, there were few opportunities for either team throughout.

‘It was a good advert for our level of football.

‘It was a tight affair but we defended well again to keep another clean sheet.

‘Our goalkeeper Ryan Young hardly had a save to make.

‘Towards the end they threw everything at us which gave us more chances of catching them on the break.’

The Hawks went closest to extending their lead after a brilliant Wes Fogden ball put Prior through. It took a brave save from the Oxford keeper to deny the striker his second goal.

Former Hawks forward Matt Paterson had a final chance for the hosts but failed to hit the target.

‘We have to make sure we keep our feet on the ground,’ said Bradbury.

‘There are some big games coming up – starting on Tuesday night with Wealdstone at Westleigh Park. It is a chance to open up a little gap.’

Hawks: Young, Williams, Stock, Woodford, Harris, Fogden, Lewis (Carter, 75min), Prior, Tubbs (Rutherford, 80min), Tarbuck (Strugnell, 84min), Rose. Att: 410