By Isaac Gleave
Whitehawk will feel it was two points dropped after being pegged back by Sevenoaks on a chilly afternoon at the TerraPura Stadium.
The Sussex side started brightly, although there were few clear-cut opportunities in the opening exchanges. Sevenoaks’ Stefan Wright recorded the first shot on target, as his tame effort was comfortably collected by Whitehawk debutant ‘keeper Mark Smith. The first real sight of goal arrived for the home side just inside ten minutes. An in-swinging corner by Dave Martin was cleared as far as Marvin Hamilton, who headed the ball back in to the box. James Fraser controlled, and on the turn shot narrowly wide of the Sevenoaks goal.
Whitehawk continued to threaten in attack, whilst also remaining resilient in defence. The pressure was building as the home side went in search of a breakthrough. Just inside thirty minutes, Ronald Sobowale delivered a ball towards Henry Muggeridge at the back post, whose well-struck shot was parried away by visiting goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card.
The home side were rewarded for their pressure right on the half-hour mark. A corner was cleared by the Sevenoaks’ defence only as far as Ahmed Abdulla, who expertly volleyed home after powering the ball through a crowded box. Marvin Hamilton had the chance to double the Hawks’ lead just before the break, but his strike from six yards was well blocked before the referee blew his whistle for half-time.
The second-half started much as the first-half had ended, as Whitehawk remained in control, though chances were few and far between. Sevenoaks did look brighter after the restart, but they were unable to test Smith in the Whitehawk goal. Just beyond the hour mark, Marvin Hamilton, again involved, was unlucky not to extend Whitehawk’s lead. A free kick on the left-hand side was sent in towards the back post, which found the surging right-back. His controlled, looping header was cleared off the line by Thomas Ripley to keep the score at 1-0.
Whitehawk were made to pay for their missed chances as the Kent side equalised fifteen minutes from time. An inviting ball by James Bessey-Saldanha on the right-hand side of the box found the onrushing Dan Parkinson, who cooly glanced his header home beyond the outstretched arm of Mark Smith. A blow for the Hawks who had looked comfortable for the large majority of the game.
Lucas Rodrigues, who was brought on just minutes before Sevenoaks had levelled the score, threatened the visitors’ defence as the match began to open up, but the forward found no way through the away side’s determined back-line.
As the game moved into its final phase, Sevenoaks defender Thomas Ripley was dismissed after being a shown a second yellow card in stoppage time for a late challenge on Lucas Rodrigues just outside of the box. The resulting free-kick was blazed well over the bar, allowing the Kent side to hold out for a share of the spoils.
A first league point of the season, however, for Jude Macdonald’s men as they look to build on this performance next Saturday when they travel to Herne Bay.
Hawks: Smith, Hamilton, Shooman, Ovenden (Tighe 90), Chappell, El-Abd, Muggeridge (c), Abdulla, Sobowale, Fraser (Rodrigues 72), Martin
Not used: Unwin, Okorougo, Broadbent
Oaks: Bridle-Card, Tennett, Taylor, Wright, Gunner, Ripley (c), Bessey-Saldanha, Davisson (Parkinson), Thompson (Fiddes), De Silva, Fowler (Deakin)
Not used: McFarlane, Holmes
Bookings: Abdulla (Hawks): Wright, Ripley, De Silva (Sevenoaks)
Dismissals: Ripley (Sevenoaks)
Referee: Barrie Small
Man of the Match: James Fraser