Robinson to the rescue as Hawks survive scare
By Danny Bellringer
Jake Robinson was the hero as he came off the bench to turn this FA Cup tie on it’s head and put Whitehawk’s name in the hat for the next round.
Steve King handed debuts to Emmanuel Monthe in defence and David Ijaha in midfield as injuries and suspension continued to bite, with Matthew Barnes-Homer returning up front.
Whitehawk dominated the first half against opponents two divisions below them, with Barnes-Homer heading over the bar from a Danny Mills cross after 22 minutes.
Barnes-Homer went even closer to scoring five minutes later when his effort from a Callum Driver cross crashed off the bar.
The former Macclesfield striker was having a busy afternoon, teeing up Sam Deering for a shot which flashed wide of the post just before the break.
The visitors – although well organised – failed to offer any real threat going forward and were happy to go in at half time still level.
The second period started in much the same vain as the first, with Danny Mills having a header well saved by Brannon Daly in the Merstham goal from a Lee Hills cross.
Barnes-Homer went close again, also from a Hills delivery, before the busy Deering engineered himself a chance by cutting inside from the right, only to see his effort go harmlessly wide.
The visitors finally started to look more of a threat in the game, and on the hour mark right back Simon Cooper surged forward and hit a speculative shot which sailed over the Whitehawk goal.
Midway through the half, Merstham’s Fabio Saraiva went closer when his effort from wide on the left went comfortably into the arms of John Sullivan.
Sullivan and the Whitehawk defence were then left stunned as the visitors went ahead after 71 minutes. There seemed to be no danger as Saraiva picked up the ball some 30 yards from goal, only to unleash a superb left footed strike that flew into the top corner of the net.
King threw Robinson on with 10 minutes left at the expense of defender Franz Tchonang, and with his first touch, The Hawks were level. Good work by John-Paul Kissock saw the ball break to Robinson and his shot looped over Daly in the Merstham goal.
It was a relief to the home side after the shock of going behind, but Robinson wasn’t finished yet. With five minutes left, Monthe charged forward and won his team a free kick 25 yards from goal. Up stepped Robinson and his stunning right footed shot arched over Daly and finished in the back of the net, to the delight of his team mates.
Whitehawk held out for nearly five minutes of stoppage time to win a game which was much more comfortable than the final scoreline suggests.
King said: “It wasn’t close in performance – we’ve battered them, they’ve had one shot in the whole game, and it was a fantastic goal. We’ve had 10 chances, and we’ve had to pull it out of the bag in the last 10 minutes. It shows a lot of character, when we’re down and we shouldn’t be down.”
So despite the scare, Whitehawk go into Monday’s 4th Round qualifying draw, and The Moatsiders are left to reflect on what might have been, on their short journey back up the A23.
Whitehawk Star Man: Jake Robinson