Isthmian League

Preview | Cray Valley PM (A)

The Hawks return to league action with a voyage to the southeasterly part of the capital for our third fixture of the season. And, well, what a start it has been for Shaun Saunders’ side who, after being rocked by K Sports in the FA Cup, have followed it up with successive victories to start the campaign.

Full of verve and vigour, it has been 10 days since that fantastic win at Littlehampton Town with Whitehawk in fine stead as they go in search of three straight wins to begin the campaign. It’s a busy period, too, as they prepare for two games in as many days with Three Bridges soon to head south on Bank Holiday Monday.

Last time out

Making the journey west to newly-promoted Littlehampton Town, it appeared the hosts should have saved some of the 130 goals scored last season as they drew a blank against a resilient Whitehawk defence.

An exquisite Charlie Harris free-kick the difference, his twelfth-minute strike nestled into the bottom-left corner to give the travelling Hawks plenty of cheer on an evening marred by homophobic abuse.

Jayden Smith made his full debut in the red shirt and impressed on the right-wing, but the nerves were jangling as the minutes passed as Will Miles and Nathan Cooper made sure of the clean-sheet and the valuable three points.

The opposition

It was a dismal start to Cray Valley Paper Mills’ Isthmian League campaign after falling to a 3-0 defeat in Ramsgate, but they followed it up with a solid 1-0 win over East Grinstead Town through a lone Denzel Gayle finish to get the ball rolling.

In retrospect ‘The Millers’ were the team to beat: atop the league table for much of last season until falling away in the latter months, they scraped a playoff position by a single point, pipping Ramsgate at the end. Evidently their playoff run was not met with success, as they lost 1-0 to Ashford United in the semi-final.

Marcel Barrington top-scored for the club last year with 22 goals, but has since moved to Herne Bay to play in the league above. With that in mind, they will look to Ade Adeyemo and Gayle to fill his shoes, as Kevin Watson’s squad look to go one further this time around.

Previous encounters

The two sides met twice last season with the Hawks once again travelling to this part of the world at the fledgling period of the campaign. James Fraser equalised soon after the restart from extremely close range to earn Ross Standen a first league point as manager of Whitehawk.

And the return fixture sang an all too familiar tune as Henry Muggeridge’s sixth-minute strike was cancelled out by Hassan Ibrahiym on one of those vintage bitter December afternoons at The Enclosed Ground.

Charlie Harris’ pre-match quotes

“We had a really good training session last night; very intense, everyone was at it. There’s competition for places, that’s for sure.”

“Everyone wants to get themselves in the team. The aim is to go an pick up six points over the Bank Holiday Weekend, that’s where everyone’s heads are at.”

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