There’s always that sense of anticipation ahead of an FA Cup tie. Large crowd, local derby, lovely weather; the seeds for a fruitful clash between Worthing and Whitehawk are starting to sprout, only on Saturday will we know the outcome.
For Shaun Saunders’ Hawks the pressure is off. Drawn against opposition who in recent years have absolutely flown, and now their lone target is that of the National League, narrowly missing out last season in the play-offs.
Whilst in the other corner, seemingly enclosed from the rest of the county, Whitehawk have been quietly rumbling in the foothills of the South Downs. A draw last weekend extended the unbeaten streak to nine matches – a laudable effort after gaining promotion back in April – with the focus switching back to the cluster of cup competitions.
Imran Kayani made his first start for the club last Saturday, and will be pushing to start tomorrow’s clash. Finlay Chadwick, who was on loan from ‘The Rebels’, has since joined Littlehampton Town, whilst Dion Miftari has also departed the club.
Manager Saunders should have much of his cavalry available as he locks horns with former Brighton & Hove Albion centre-back, Adam Hinshelwood in the opposing dugout.
With the exception of consecutive 4-0 away defeats in the league, Worthing have started brightly in their second season in National League South, sitting in 5th with 19 points from their opening 10 matches.
Beaten heavily by Braintree Town and Maidstone in recent weeks, it was victory against the former last season that propelled the Rebels to the play-off semi-final last season, where Oxford City would smash hopes of promotion.
One to Watch | Jake Robinson: Although Nicky Wheeler and Ricky Aguiar perhaps pose the largest threat in front of goal, former Hawk Robinson is gunning for a start in the red of Worthing following a lengthy injury layoff that saw him mark his year-long lay-off with a goal in the previous round of the FA Cup – a 1-0 at Eastbourne Borough.
The now 36 year-old arrived on the Woodside Road at the start of last season, picking up an injury on the very first game of the season. A key member of Brighton’s set up during the 2000s, his impressive CV also sees him feature for Shrewsbury, Northampton, and Luton, as well as the Hawks, where he made over 100 appearances, scoring 35 times in the process.
The two sides last met during the 2018-19 season, when Whitehawk would inevitably suffer a second successive relegation. It’s little surprise, then, that Worthing completed a league double over the Hawks, with a 2-0 win at Woodside Road succeeding a 2-1 victory at The Enclosed Ground.
For a link to purchase tickets, you can do so here: https://ticketpass.org/event/EZOLKP/worthing-vs-whitehawk