JASON Ainsley has hailed matchwinner Lewis Hawkins for putting Spennymoor in sight of the National League.

Moors struggled against Bradford Park Avenue at the Brewery Field on Wednesday night, but a belting strike from Hawkins, on loan from Hartlepool United, proved the difference.

Ainsley takes his side to Brackley in the semi-finals of the play-offs on Sunday.

“It’s been a long season,’’ he reflected. “We were flat first half, nowhere near and the crowd deserved better.

“Decision-making was poor and we had a right go at them at half time. We have worked so hard for nine months and to throw it away in 45 minutes….

“Second-half we weren’t excellent, but got closer to out men and Lewis scored a wonder goal which wasn’t befitting to the game. A worldie and he was excellent all night. He wanted the ball and got on it and a real spark.

“I felt after 45 minutes we were going to go out and it wasn’t pretty, but second half was a proper play-off performance. We won second balls and defended manfully.

Ainsley said of Hawkins, who is out of contract at Pools this summer: “What’s pleasing is we asked him to play centre mid, holding role, left on a three and he’s worked hard. He’s come in and grew in state. I’ve have had him here before, wanted him before on other occasions and that’s what.”

“Everyone can see what it means to be in the semi-final of the play-offs. It’s a massive achievement, but one we won’t give up lightly.’’

Moors have met Brackley in league twice this season, losing 4-1 away last September, before winning at home 2-1 last month.

Ainsley admitted: “Sunday will be tough, they are a good side. They were excellent here and down there we were the better side before James (Curtis) got sent-off. Any team in the play-offs, go through them, they are all good sides.’’