Just two days after their FA Cup heroics, Whitehawk returned to winning ways in the National League South after a 1-0 win at second place Maidstone United.
David Martin got the only goal of the game in first half stoppage time, with the Hawks producing a solid all-round performance to see the game out at the Gallagher Stadium and lift them back into the play off places.
There was little to choose between the sides in the early exchanges, but as the half wore on, the Hawks were beginning to settle down, and get the ball down and play some great football.
Steve King’s men had a goal disallowed after twenty minutes, with Jake Robinson finishing emphatically from Sam Deering’s through ball, only for the forward to be called offside.
The Stones threatened for the first time midway through the first half, with Manny Parry heading wide Matt Bodkin’s corner from the left, before Joe Healy should have done better twelve yards out – the midfielder only able to fire Frannie Collin’s pull-back well over the bar.
Whitehawk then came close themselves to breaking the deadlock, with Danny Mills seeing a header from Martin’s corner hacked off the line at the far post, before Robinson again had a goal chalked off for offside.
Then, in what was the last play of the first half, the Hawks took the lead – and in some style. Deering did brilliantly to keep the ball alive at the far post, and his delivery was only half-cleared by the home defence. The ball dropped to Martin 20 yards out, who turned away from a defender before striking a spectacular effort beyond the helpless Lee Worgan and into the top corner.
The Hawks were the better side at the start of the second period, with Robinson testing Worgan before the keeper saved comfortably from Mills’ downward header.
Jordan Rose, who 48 hours earlier scored the late equaliser to force a replay against Dagenham, then saved the Hawks from conceding on the hour. A long ball played in Healy, who from a tight angle saw his low drive beat Craig Ross, but Rose got back on the line to put the ball behind for a corner.
Arnaud Mendy then had a chance to put the Hawks two goals up, but he was unable to control Martin’s cross when in space inside the area, and the home defence cleared the danger.
Ross was then at his best to preserve his clean sheet – only his fifth of the season. Alex Brown picked up the ball in midfield, and his strike from 30 yards forced a terrific save from an outstretched Ross, who turned over the bar.
Maidstone pushed forward in the closing stages, and with no fewer than six minutes of stoppage time, had a chance to earn a point in the 97th minute. Alex Flisher found space inside the area, but from a tight angle, could only flash the ball across the face of goal and wide.
The win sees the Hawks go fourth – with a game in hand on both Oxford and Maidstone – going into Saturday’s FA Trophy clash against National League play off hopefuls Dover Athletic.
Photos by David Hunt