What’s it going to be then, eh?
The reminders of a dreary past filter through into the amygdala as we read the name of Saturday’s opponents: Chichester City. Yes, the very same Chichester that slipped six past your humble Whitehawk back in September before dumping us out of the Sussex Senior Cup in the dying minutes of additional time. Ah yes, that’s the one.
Oaklands Park has not been kind to Ross Standen’s side this year. Call it a graveyard ground, call it whatever negative adjective under this very yellow sun and even darker sky. Ever since that miserable late Summer evening the travelling Hawks party have looked for this fixture, to avenge the memories that can so simply and swiftly be rectified.
Last time out
It was a trip to Lancing, wahoo! New ground alert for many a traveller, the support was one of wonder and gorgeosity personified. Lining the bank behind Alieu Secka’s goal, they journeyed along the coast to witness Ollie Munt’s first competitive goal in the depths of the wintry air.
From the spot it was, James Fraser was clattered by Secka late on in the box. Whistle, point, penalty, composure: the sheer cheek of it, Munt lifted the ball high into the middle of the netting after a lengthy stoppage to rescue a deserved point for Whitehawk.
It cancelled out Lorenzo Lewis’ first half fizzer from 20 yards as the Hawks recorded their first league goal in little over 360 minutes of Isthmian football. Up with the whistle, away with the roars as those from Brighton shimmied on home with mighty grins on their cold faces. Well, most of them did anyway.
Right … the aforementioned Chichester City, the Lilywhites of West Sussex, the green beacon for this proud county. The side squished between Sittingbourne and Burgess Hill, they occupy that secure ninth position. Eight points off the play-offs, that faint flicker of hope remains for Miles Rutherford’s cohort after a slim 1-0 victory over Three Bridges last weekend.
But they arrive deprived of rest. The 125 inside the revered Oakland’s Park watched on as Folkestone Invicta knocked the Lilywhites out of the Velocity Trophy courtesy of five second half visiting goals. 5-3 the final scoreline, the Senior Cup their last opportunity for some glossy silverware.
Goals have, as we know, been flowing on regular occurrence with Callum Overton’s eight leading the pack, two of which were recorded in that infamous 6-1 affair. Second in the list is Ethan Pritchard: five goals this campaign, scoring a brace in a similarly ruthless 5-1 win home over Faversham Town prior to the recent festivities. Yeah, they’re rather potent on familiar turf.
So, here we go. The air was warm and the football was, hmm, abject – from a Whitehawk point of view, at least. A shaky start to the season was encapsulated by the first six minutes of this contest: Overton with two inside the opening six minutes, Javaun Splatt’s ensuing spot-kick was responded with a further three home goals before the interval. And then Tyrone Madhani placed the rosy cherry atop the sugary icing, rippling the net for his side’s sixth.
But wait, there’s more. Not so far back in the calendar Standen and his battalion made another trip to this cathedral city for a spot of Senior Cup action. Again, it was not to be. A few degrees lower, it was goalless and rather drab until Emmet Dunn’s extra-time arrow-like finish condemned the Hawks to another loss on this cursed turf.
Think it might be time for some renewed positivity …