Castle hopes for Hakim fitness boost

PUBLISHED: 10:44 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:05 06 May 2010

Lee Clarke celebrates notching his 11th goal of the campaign

Lee Clarke celebrates notching his 11th goal of the campaign

STRIKER Paul Hakim faces a race to be fit for the home fixture with Havant & Waterlooville after being forced off injured on Easter Monday. The striker caused havoc for the Hayes & Yeading United defence before he had to be withdrawn

STRIKER Paul Hakim faces a race to be fit for the home fixture with Havant & Waterlooville after being forced off injured on Easter Monday.

The striker caused havoc for the Hayes & Yeading United defence before he had to be withdrawn after taking some clattering tackles in the first half. Simon Martin replaced Hakim and was later hauled down for the sending off and the free kick which Paul Bruce fired home for an impressive 2-0 win. City manager Steve Castle said: "We have to wait on Paul Hakim now. He has been fantastic for me up top, very positive. I hope we can get him fit. Simon deserved his chance to come on. He has been very unlucky because we signed Akanni-Sunday Wasiu and Paul Hakim and were looking for a permutation. Sunday and Paul Hakim do look a threat together but when Paul went off we could have put Lee Clarke up there and put James Quilter into midfield. It was testament to Simon that I put him on."

The Bruce free kick was a special goal to add to his collection and Castle, who felt sympathy with dismissed United midfielder Steve Perkins, was delighted to see the ball go in. He said: "Paul had been practising them before the game and there was a bit of justice there I think. I don't like players being sent off for that but it is the rule. I would rather he didn't have to go and we took the goal."

The strength of the squad put together by Castle was again highlighted with James Quilter, Simon Martin and Marcel McKie on the bench while Player of the Season contender Hasim Deen missed out due to injury. Former Premier League player Jon Hunt also featured from the bench and Oaklands College prospect Hamza Twomey was in the squad. Castle said: "It has been unfortunate for people like James Quilter and Hasim Deen. I have been very pleased with the front two and Lee Clarke has come into midfield. He dropped maybe a little on Saturday but he came back and showed that he is now a vital cog in midfield.

"Luke Thurlbourne was far from happy coming off but that is to be expected. He is a young lad and he has done very well for us. James Quilter is very experienced and he knows what is needed. There was a lad playing for H & Y called Josh Scott and he needed stamping out."

Castle felt his team deployed the tactics of shutting down the speedy opposition front men quickly and was delighted with the character of the side to respond so well after dropping two points late on against Thurrock on Saturday. He said: "It was a comprehensive win which was good. Hayes & Yeading United put themselves at risk a little bit with the way they play and we dealt with their threat going forward. They are a team that, had we stood off them, they could have caused us some problems. We did what I want us to be doing which is shutting the ball down early as far up the pitch as we can. It goes to show how far we have come that the boys were devastated with the draw on Saturday."

The manager hailed the contribution of legendary goalkeeper Paul Bastock who has kept three clean sheets and let in just two goals in the five games since his return to the club from Rushden & Diamonds. Castle said: "When we brought Paul Bastock in it was for his goalkeeping ability but also for his organisation and communication. The lads that are playing now know what to do, when to kick it and when to bring the ball down.

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