Whitehawk’s unbeaten start to 2018 came to an end away at top of the table Dartford.
Andy Pugh scored twice as the hosts eventually saw off Whitehawk, 3-1, and the Hawks certainly did themselves proud at Princes Park.
The hosts took the lead against the run of play in first half added time through Ronnie Vint, before David Ijaha’s effort drew King’s side level in the second half.
It was the least the visitors deserved, but they couldn’t hold out for a point with Pugh’s brace giving Dartford a 3-1 win.
The Hawks certainly enjoyed the better of the play against the league leaders early on, with Ky Marsh-Brown forcing Deren Ibrahim into a smart save before Sam Chaney saw a low drive across goal saved by the Darts stopper.
The visitors then had a great opportunity to go ahead midway through the first half. Kodi Lyons-Foster’s free-kick eventually fell to Elliot Benyon, who saw his effort blocked and the ball dropped to Gold Omotayo, and the striker’s great strike was deflected onto the underside of the bar by a Dartford defender before Arnaud Mendy scooped the rebound over.
And the Hawks looked like they could be made to pay for those misses, but Alfie Pavey fired over from twelve yards after good work from Danny Harris.
However, the hosts broke the deadlock in added time in the first half. After a harsh free-kick went against them, the Hawks never really got the ball from Ryan Hayes clear and it fell to Vint who fired the ball low through a sea of bodies and into the net.
Despite the setback, the Hawks continued in the same vein as the first half and got the equaliser they at least deserved ten minutes into the second period.
Benyon’s ball in from the left was only palmed away by Ibrahim as far as Ijaha, and with plenty to do, the midfielder drilled the ball low past the keeper and into the far corner from a tight angle.
Again, it came against the run of play when Dartford regained the lead after the hour. Hesitation in the Hawks defence allowed Pugh to run onto a flick by Nathan Collier from a long ball and from the tightest of angles he squeezed the ball past Dan Wilkes and into the far corner.
The Hawks looked for a way back into the game, with Gibraltar international Ibrahim, redeeming himself for his error moments later. Chaney played a neat ball across to Benyon, who took his shot first time only to see his low drive superbly turned away by the diving keeper.
With the Hawks chasing the equaliser, the game opened up and the hosts took advantage to wrap up the points twelve minutes from time. Pugh was allowed too much time and ran through after picking up a long ball and one on one with Wilks made no mistake.
The defeat was hard to take for the Hawks, who can count themselves unlucky not to take something from the game for their efforts.