A Lucas Rodrigues brace helped Whitehawk secure a comfortable victory over Peacehaven and Telscombe on a freezing afternoon at The Sports Park in what was the first competitive match since the recent lockdown.
The Hawks took the lead just ten minutes in, as Rodrigues slotted beyond Harry Cracknell in the hosts’ net. The visitors were pegged back soon after, however, as Liam Benson coolly finished from close-range. Whitehawk restored their lead through a brilliant Ronald Sobowale strike, moments before Luke Emberson fired high into the net to increase the advantage. The goals continued to flow in the second half, too, as Henry Muggeridge added a fourth prior to Rodrigues’ second of the march to cap off an emphatic away performance.
Following on from Ross Standen’s first game in charge against Broadbridge Heath a month earlier, the newly appointed manager had a fully fit squad to choose from for his second competitive fixture. Standen made four changes to the side that defeated the Bears last time out, as Lloyd Cotton and Rhyle Ovenden came into the side, in addition to debutants Leon Redwood and Omarr Lawson, who both signed for the Hawks during the recent hiatus from Lewes and Kingstonian respectively.
It was Redwood who stood over an early right-sided free-kick from outside the box, but his in-swinging cross just about evaded every blue shirt, as the ball trickled away for a goal-kick. The first real sight of goal occurred seconds later, as the visitors swiftly won the ball back, before laying it into the path of Rodrigues. The forward drove at the ‘Tye’ defence, before placing a shot narrowly over the bar from twenty yards.
It was one-way traffic, and the hosts’ resilience was broken just ten minutes in through Rodrigues. Ronald Sobowale held the ball up expertly, before giving it back to the Brazilian on the right-hand side of the box who, from a slight angle, managed to direct his low drive underneath Cracknell to put the Hawks in front.
The early breakthrough appeared to breathe fresh life into the Peacehaven attack, as they drew level eight minutes later. The ball was played down the left-flank to the onrushing Liam Benson, who found himself in plenty of space to advance towards Broadbent. The forward’s strike was a cool one, as he lifted the ball over Broadbent to present his side with an equaliser.
Soon after, the pendulum began to swing in favour of the visitors, who were happy to see more of the ball, whilst Rodrigues continued to be a handful up top. Half chances came and went, as Lawson dragged an effort wide in the hope of a debut goal, before the heavens opened above the Sussex coast. The freezing rain would not disrupt the Hawks’ energy, it seemed, as Sobowale struck from distance to re-establish his side’s lead. A quite brilliant team goal, as Muggeridge showed determination to win the ball back with a clean, sliding tackle 35 yards from goal, before giving it to Lawson, who danced his way past numerous defenders, prior to laying it off to Sobowale, whose thunderous strike emphatically found the far top-corner.
Just three minutes after, the Hawks recorded a third through a rare, yet ruthless Emberson strike. The move began with Rodrigues, once more involved, who received the ball on the far-side of the halfway line, before running half the length of the pitch to then cut it back towards the box. Emberson controlled sweetly, creating space for a close-range shot, from which he made no mistake as he gave his side a healthy lead to take into the break.
HT: Peacehaven 1-3 Whitehawk
With rolling substitutes in operation, Standen opted for a fresh look in the second half, as Marvin Hamilton, Frankie Chappell, Lew Unwin, Ahmed Abdulla and Billie Clark all came on for the latter part of the contest. The Hawks almost made it four soon after the restart as Sobowale was played through on goal, but his initial effort was blocked by the ‘keeper, before the follow-up from an acute angle was blazed across the face of goal, narrowly missing the far post.
The visitors came even closer to extending their advantage over their Sussex neighbours as Redwood delivered a delicious ball towards the near post but, to the surprise of the travelling Hawks supporters, Rodrigues saw his first-time effort clatter the post as the hosts just about managed to survive the early onslaught. As the clock passed the hour mark, Billie Clark, who was making his first-team debut for the Hawks at just 16 years of age, was forced to go off with a head injury following a nasty collision with Max Harbrow.
The Hawks’ pressure was relentless for much of the half, but the hope of squeezing home a fourth stalled slightly as Muggeridge and Rodrigues both had chances from inside the box to put the game beyond all doubt, but the Tye defence stood firm. Not for long, it proved, as Muggeridge’s dominant display was rewarded with a goal fifteen minutes from the end. Sobowale sprinted along the right-hand side of the pitch, taking it around the ‘keeper whilst managing to keep it in play, before sending a ball towards Muggeridge. The midfielder took his time, before firing into the bottom-left corner.
It was five-star performance minutes after as Rodrigues bagged his second of the day. Having collected a delicately weighted through ball from Lawson, the forward took it in his stride and advanced towards goal, before sweeping the ball beyond the ‘keeper to put the game to bed. There was yet time for one final chance as Unwin was sent clear on the left-side of the box, but his shot was parried away as far as Emberson who, with a sudden appetite for goal, could not quite record a brace as he powerfully struck a few inches wide of the post.
Peacehaven & Telscombe 1 Whitehawk 5
Rodrigues 2, Sobowale, Emberson and Muggeridge