Three penalties proved to be the difference as Whitehawk endured a tough night at Chelmsford City.
Steve King made three changes to the side that were victorious at St. Albans, with Arnaud Mendy, Nathaniel Pinney and Gold Omotayo coming into the starting eleven.
And the Hawks got off to the worst possible start, going behind after just three minutes. The visitors failed to clear a free-kick and Anthony Church found Michael Spillane on the left who curled the ball into the far corner with his first time effort.
The hosts continued to press forward, with some neat play in the final third seeing Jonathan Giles through on goal but Dan Wilks saved his effort at the second attempt.
And Chelmsford doubled their lead after 12 minutes. Jordan Gibbons was penalised for bundling down Scott Fenwick just inside the area, and the striker dusted himself down and fired past Wilks, who dived the right way but just couldn’t get there.
Phillip Roberts then fired just wide as the hosts continued their attacking threat, but the Hawks then spurred a great chance to get back into the game with 18 minutes gone. Nassim L’Ghoul’s free-kick wasn’t dealt with by Sam Beasant, and Lloyd Macklin’s header back across goal picked out Omotayo but he headed wide with the goal gaping.
However, the Hawks halved the deficit midway through the first period. L’Ghoul’s corner eventually fell to Macklin who knocked the ball back in to Pinney who produced a fine volley to beat Beasant from inside the area.
Omotayo then raced clear after being put through on goal moments later, but Beasant came out well to block the forward’s effort.
And on the half hour, the Hawks were level. After breaking from a corner, L’Ghoul played the ball in from the left and found Mendy, who teed up Omotayo and from 20 yards the striker produced a superb low strike to pick out the bottom corner.
Steve King’s side went close to taking the lead early in the second half, with L’Ghoul’s corner picking out Yannis Ambroisine at the near post but his bullet header went just wide.
However, the Hawks’ task of getting three points was made that little more difficult just before the hour. Having been booked minutes earlier, Osa Obamwonyi was given a second yellow card for a foul on Jazzi Barnum-Bubb as the Hawks were reduced to ten men.
And the hosts took advantage of their numerical gain – although in fortuitous style. Spillane hit a free-kick into the wall and referee Matty Buonassisi judged a Hawks player to handle it, and awarded a penalty. Fenwick stepped up, and despite Wilks getting a fingertip on the ball, it found its way in off the inside of the post with 15 minutes to go.
A tough night for the Hawks was rounded off in added time. Simon Mensah was harshly judged to have clipped Bagasan Graham inside the area and Buonassisi awarded the hosts’ third penalty of the night. Fenwick again stepped up, and completed his hat-trick by sending Wilks the wrong way.
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