And then we returned.
The prolonged January hiatus (let’s call it our own little Winter break) from everyone’s favourite pastime is now at an end. Look west, and you can practically see it. Eleven miles and five points are all that separate the sides as Whitehawk need not venture far for Sussex’s most understated derby.
But what remains as Ross Standen’s previous fixture in charge is that infamous, wacky affair with Three Bridges. Succumbing to the soggiest of the elements last Saturday afternoon at Hythe Town minutes from the scheduled kick-off, it’s a renewed opportunity for a first win since the early days of December for Brighton’s colourful club.
Last time out
Not a wealth of excitement was seen at Hythe, and we highly doubt you’d be interested to learn of the (not so) riveting stuff that occurred on the journey there, so let’s just discuss, for a final time, the fun one that happened beforehand.
Of course by now most of the nation are well-informed on the events of January 3, 2022 (seriously though, what a remarkable way to commence a year), but we’ll briskly jog the memory if it, for any reason, has since escaped the mind.
As much as Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke loves to be reminded of this, it was indeed his unfortunate error that led to Three Bridge’s — and in turn the game’s — only goal: Noel Leighton sliding it under the ‘keeper’s legs. Yes, Nathan, we promise this is the last time it’s discussed…probably.
But then the goalscorer saw red alongside Jamie Splatt and Joe Stone. Then, too, did Alex Malins…without forgetting Bryan Villavicencio’s outrageous challenge on Mo Kamara that made Alex Bradley whip out a fifth card resembling the shade of red. Then the referee blew his whistle, and then it went viral, and we basked in the glaring spotlight of the media…for a day or two…which hopefully, for Whitehawk’s sake, aren’t observed again.
Right, enough about us, it’s time to learn of who we will soon be playing a game of football against. No need to dive too deep – everyone’s heard of Lancing, and most people have visited. Home to the Sussex FA their ground of Culver Road is a progressive ‘lil establishment: modern, artificial surface, not too far from the station…or a pub or two.
All the needs then of your typical footballing fan emphatically ticked off, but what of their recent performances? Well, victorious just the one time since their previous home triumph on October 2, form has not been strikingly brilliant. Regardless of winless runs, that single victory was on Cray Valley Paper Mills’ own soil, and they earned a mightily laudable point at Ashford United just last weekend.
Yet their home record has been the kryptonite. Two wins on home, err, plastic all season caters for a lowly position of 19th, five points off both bottom side Phoenix Sports and, yours truly, Whitehawk. Four wins all campaign, it must be remembered that one of those were spawned back in September, at the expense of an abject Hawks performance in what was an otherwise delightful late Summers’s day.
Billowing the nettage has come at a premium for The Lancers in their first year in the Isthmian League. Seventeen goals in twenty-two fixtures sees a leading scorer with an unsurprisingly low number attached to his name. And, what do you know, it turns out to be the soon-to-be-mentioned-in-full Matt Daniel, who has five on the season. Ismailia Diallo arguably their ‘one to watch’, two of Lancing’s four goals scored since the late days of November have arrived via the forward’s boot.
Recently touched upon but not really, the reverse fixture witnessed a then winless-away-from-home Lancing overcome James Fraser’s first half header to snatch all three points. Frustrating it was for the home faithful, Finn Daniels-Yeomans brought matters all-square on the stroke of the half-hour mark, before Daniel caressed the ball into a vacant net to send his squad euphoric.