National League North champions Salford City travel to National League South champions Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday for the first time.
It is the first meeting between the two sides, with The Hawks only formed in 1998 as a merger between Havant Town and Waterlooville.
Lee Bradbury’s side won the title on goal difference in the dying minutes of last season thanks to an 87th minute goal by Jason Prior to seal a 3-2 win over Concord Rangers. It made it back-to-back promotions for The Hawks who won the Isthiman League title in 2016-17.
In their first season in The National League, Bradbury’s side took some time to adjust and failed to score in their first couple of games. But that has started to turn around and Hawks fans have been treated to goals galore in the last couple of games, scoring seven in two.
A realistic target for The Hawks will be consolidation in non-league’s top flight, and they have stuck with former Bournemouth striker Bradbury to head that task up. He has been in charge since 2012 and has tried to consistently keep a side together, including former Cherries and Doncaster central midfielder Brian Stock, while adding fire power up front including Alfie Pavey who scored 22 goals for Dartford last season.
Havant managed their first win of the season last weekend away at fellow newcomers Braintree Town, although they required injury time goals from Nicke Kabamba and Alfie Rutherford to bring home the three points.
As mentioned before, The Hawks have gone from failing to score in their first two to scoring eight goals in the last three including the four in last weekend’s 4-3 win in Essex. At the same time they have also conceded eight in the last three, and kept just one clean sheet this season which was at home to Boreham Wood in the second round of games.
They are still looking for their first home win.
Danger Man – Nicke Kabamba
The 25-year-old is The Hawks’ top scorer with two goals this season, but has bounds of potential. The striker left Hampton & Richmond Borough in January 2017 to join Portsmouth and was part of Paul Cook’s League Two winning squad before being released in the summer. Prior to that he had played for The Beavers at Moor Lane in pre-season in July 2016.
Last season Kabamba had loan spells at Colchester United and then Aldershot Town, where he scored three goals including one in the National League play-offs.