Whitehawk added another chapter into the history books after booking their place in the Second Round of the FA Cup for the first time ever.
Making their debut in the First Round, the Hawks shared eight goals in a thrilling game with Lincoln City at the Enclosed Ground, and prevailed 5-3 in front of the highest crowd they have seen for many a year.
Fans spilled onto the pitch at the full time whistle to celebrate with the players, most of whom stayed to join in the party on the pitch as the Hawks booked their place in round two – and are now just ninety minutes away from a potential tie against a Premier League side.
Manager Steve King said after the game: “It is hard to enjoy games like that.
“As a manager you can’t really enjoy it until the final whistle goes and then all the relief and the emotion comes out.
“It is a great day and everyone should be proud of themselves from the players to the stewards.
“I feel a bit shell-shocked to be honest. Not from winning the game, as I thought we thoroughly deserved it, but the emotion of the tie going one way and then the other.”
Hosts Whitehawk went straight on the front foot and deservedly took a sixth minute lead. Sam Deering did well to get the ball in from the right, and Danny Mills lost his marker at the far post. With still plenty to do, the striker headed the ball back across goal and into the far corner, sending the fans behind the goal into euphoria.
Things then almost got better for the hosts when the outstanding Dave Martin did brilliantly to burst down the left wing, before cutting inside. From a tight angle, his effort was saved by Paul Farman, but the ball dropped to Mills, only for his header to come back off the bar.
The Imps then forced Craig Ross into action after twenty minutes, as Matt Rhead saw his effort turned around the post by the diving keeper, but only for the hosts to break from the resulting corner to go two goals ahead.
After dealing with the corner, Mills lead a swift counter attacking move, playing the ball out to Robinson on the left who burst into the area, cut inside and drove low into the bottom corner.
However, the tie was far from over, and Lincoln were given a lifeline in first half stoppage time. Mills was harshly penalised for holding on to the towering Rhead inside the area, and referee Constantine Hatzidakis pointed to the spot – much to many of the 1,342-strong crowd’s shock.
Rhead stepped up, and made no mistake to make it 2-1 going into the break.
Lincoln started well in the second half – shooting down the slope – but it was the Hawks who struck a third goal on the hour to restore their two goal lead.
Deering picked the ball up in midfield, and worked his way into the area from the right. With still plenty to do, he cut inside Chris Bush before firing past Farman at the near post.
At 3-1, the Hawks then came so close to increasing their lead further moments later when Martin was played in on the left, and advancing on goal, lifted the ball over the beaten Farman, but only to see the ball come back off of the bar and away.
And Lincoln took advantage as they halved the deficit for a second time. A long throw wasn’t cleared by the Hawks, and a header back into the area eventually dropped for Rhead at the back post who finished emphatically.
The game went from one way to the other as it entered its final stages. With the Hawks leading by just one goal, the visitors went in search of an equaliser, but substitute Liam Hearn’s effort was well kept out by a mixture of Ross and the lunging Juan Cruz Gotta.
It was the hosts who restored their two goal lead with two minutes remaining. Nick Arnold picked up a loose ball on the by-line, and he drove forwards towards goal. His low ball across was deflected by Farman into the path of Martin, who at the second attempt made no mistake from close range.
At that stage, some could be forgiven for thinking job done – but with six minutes added on – the visitors made it 4-3 in the first of those six minutes. Substitute Greg Tempest saw his rasping strike brilliantly saved by Ross, but only for Rhead to head home to rebound to complete his hat-trick and set up a nervous finale.
However, the Hawks confirmed their place in the second round with virtually the last kick of the game. The hosts broke after Lincoln pressed for an equaliser, and Deering was hauled down by Alan Power for a penalty, which also saw Power sent off for a second bookable offence. Deering stepped up, and the Hawks’ number seven stepped up and drove home to seal victory.
King concluded: “That is up there with other successes I’ve had as a manger. It is the first time ever that this club has got to the first round – and now the second round.
“To make that history makes me a very proud person.”