A Billie Clark hat-trick proved the catalyst as the young Hawks recorded back-to-back wins to open their Isthmian Youth League South campaign following a resounding victory over Burgess Hill Town.
The visitors made it yet another fast start as goals from Clark and Demas Ramsis inside twelve minutes put the Hawks on course for three points. Clark added two more later on to bag his hat trick, whilst Josh Paine also found the target as Whitehawk cruised to a 5-0 victory.
Manager Del Tobias made two changes to the side that shattered Bognor Regis Town 14-1 a fortnight ago, as Adam Cranfield and Hugo Denis Le Seve came into the starting XI in place of Josh Hickingbotham and Joe Marchant respectively. Dylan Little got proceedings under way in front of a respectable crowd on what was a particularly chilly night.
The opening exchanges were relatively even, and Carlos Jorge will be disappointed that he failed to give his Burgess Hill side the advantage as his free-header was sent harmlessly over the crossbar. It was not long after, however, that Clark gave the Hawks an early lead. Ramsis showed excellent pace to sprint on to a deep through-ball, leaving his defender with ease. The forward drove into the box, before squaring it across to the onrushing Clark, who tapped home from close-range.
The hosts could have found themselves on level terms had someone in a green shirt gambled on Oliver Davies’ fierce cross which flashed across the face of goal, and flew away to safety. The Hillians were forced to pay minutes later, as Ramsis made it 2-0 inside twelve minutes. Just seconds after the forward had placed an effort wide of the left-hand post, he doubled his side’s advantage after being played clean-through on goal by Clark. Ramsis, on the run, controlled the ball perfectly into his path before firing past the helpless Charlie Kneath.
It was almost a third immediately after, but Clark’s effort at goal from inside the box following a free-kick on the right-hand side brushed the outside of the post. At the other end, the hosts almost halved the deficit as a free-kick was curled in towards the back post. In similar circumstances to their earlier missed opportunity, the ball had just a bit too much pace on it, and it evaded everyone, narrowly missing the post. In search of more, Ollie Munt played a delicate ball to Josh Paine on the left-hand side. The pass was inch perfect for Paine who took it in his stride, before attempting to lift the ball over Kneath, but the ‘keeper got a slight touch on it to deflect it away from goal.
It should have been a three-goal advantage just before the thirty-minute mark, as Munt played it to Little on the right-wing. He drove the ball across goal and, as Kneath can only spill it, it fell to Oscar Pinnock inside the six-yard box, but his goal bound effort was somehow cleared off the line. As the visitors continued to dominate their opponents, Paine took sight at goal, striking it sweetly from 25 yards, but his effort was always going wide, as it evaded the far post.
Paine was involved once more, heading wide from close-range after Little had delivered an inch-perfect ball into the box, but the number nine miscues his header, as it goes well wide of the post. As half-time beckoned, there were further chances for the Hawks. Paine, desperate to get on the scoresheet, fired over the top on the stretch, before Clark looked to make it a third before the break from a free-kick from just outside the box, but his goal-bound effort deflected off Davies for a corner, as the half came to a close.
Whitehawk emerged with a similar mindset to the first-half, and they practically killed the game off immediately after the restart. Munt played it back to Clark on the edge of the box, who beat his man with ease, before firing low into the far corner to give the Hawks a three-goal advantage. In search of a fourth, Munt attempted what would have been an early goal of the season contender, but his direct free-kick from 35 yards was a comfortable catch for Kneath.
Clark thought he had his hat trick just before the hour after a brilliant pass from Ramsis had found the forward on the edge of the box. Clark controlled it crisply, beat his man but fired high over the bar. Moments later, it was Deja vu for the visitors as Sid O’Neill found himself in a similar position to Clark, but he too got under the ball a bit too much as it soared into the woodland behind the goal.
Despite it being one-way traffic for the majority of the contest, the hosts did have a chance to pull a goal back with just over twenty minutes remaining. A corner was cleared as far as Shay Leahy, who struck it fiercely on the half-volley, but it took a slight deflection as it narrowly avoided the post. Soon after, however, Paine did make it four. A more than deserved goal for the striker, who had toiled away without reward. With just over fifteen minutes remaining, Paine ran on to an expertly weighted through-ball along the right-hand side. The forward drove forward into the box, before unleashing an accurate strike into the far corner to further extend the Hawks’ advantage.
As the game descended into its final phase, there was still time for a fifth goal. Having recently come off the bench, Ossie O’Neill received the ball inside the box and, in an attempt to take it past his man, was brought down by the defender, leaving referee Harry Tingley with no other option than to point to the spot. With a hat-trick at stake, Clark confidently stepped up, and coolly rolled the ball into the net to make it his third, and the Hawks’ fifth.
Charlie Goss came within inches of making it six, but Kneath made a tremendous save to tip it around the post for a corner in the dying moments. No matter, however, as the young Hawks record consecutive wins to start off the league campaign as they stand alone atop the Isthmian Youth League South. A trip to Three Bridges awaits the Hawks next Monday as they look to continue their rich vein of form.
Hawks line-up: Campbell, Cranfield (Chapman 65’), Le Seve, Little, Pinnock, McSwiney, Clark, S. O’Neill, Paine (O. O’Neill 76’), Munt (Goss 69’), Ramsis
Subs not used: De Felice, Harrison