Isthmian League

Preview | Hythe Town (H)

Saturday brings a new chapter. A new beginning. A new identity. The Shaun Saunders era commences at 3pm on The Enclosed Ground turf as Whitehawk host Hythe Town. 15th v 16th. Separated by goal difference alone, there are few first assignments this demanding, this crucial. Swapping Haywards Heath for East Brighton, the arrival of Saunders follows the departures of Ross Standen, Stuart Tuck and Tony Coade, who all left the club on Monday.

A tumultuous campaign plagued with injuries, inconsistencies and introspection, Saunders joins having pulled his previous club into the playoff positions, but parted company with The Blues in January. Now at the Hawks’ helm the hope is for his experience to help guide Whitehawk away from relegation trouble as the season winds to a tense close.

Last time out

It was to the immense frustration of many a travelling supporter that severe traffic delayed their arrival to Whitstable. But upon entering the ground it may have proved a blessing. In a bewildering development on the Kentish shores it was the division’s basement club that recorded an impressive 3-0 victory in what would be Standen’s last game in charge. Without a league win since January 3rd, The Oystermen thundered into a three-goal lead before the break.

Jack Hanson opened the scoring soon before Charlie Heatley’s penalty doubled the advantage with a mere 18 minutes played. And the most disastrous of halves was assured minutes before the half time whistle blew; Danny Walder rippling the net to secure Whitstable a first three points in 88 days.

The opposition

Slide along the Kent coast to discover Saturday’s opponents: Hythe Town. Nothing to separate them in the points column, nothing to separate them in the reverse fixture. The Cannons march to Sussex unbeaten in their previous four, including a quarter-final triumph over Ashford United in the Kent Senior Cup.

Forced to settle for a single point with Lancing last weekend James Rogers’ side are one of a few battling at the bottom of the table, craving maximum points as the congestion continues, panic grows with only four more games on the calendar.

The league’s leakiest defence, it has become more resolute in recent weeks with just three goals conceded in their last four matches. At the other end it has been the boots of Jordan Sarfo and Riley Alford to keep them afloat – entering with a respective seven and six goals on the campaign.

Previous meetings

As the days remained bitter and the win drought lengthened into February the Hawks travelled to Hythe’s Reachfields for a frenetic rearranged affair. An open contest with goals aplenty, James Fraser recorded his brace a minute after Tyler Sterling had equalised for the hosts. Time ticked on with Whitehawk seemingly impenetrable … until the dying seconds where an Alford lob stole two points away from Standen’s side as a 2-2 draw was guaranteed.

Hythe’s previous excursion to Sussex’s happy place ended in contrasting emotion for the travelling part after a 3-0 defeat. Connor Tighe set the tone as Ahmed Abdulla delivered the decisive doubler soon after the hour-mark, before Rhyle Ovenden secured the points late on.

Comments (2)

  1. Andrew Smith

    Dear Sirs
    I am attending the game tomorrow (09/02/2022) against Hythe Town and have been trying to get the match program via your website. Due to my total incompetence with all things technical I have been unable to locate an on-line program anywhere!
    Would you please be able to send me simple instructions as to how I find a match program?
    Many thanks

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