And then it was March, and the winds were fairer and the temperatures cooler. In footballing terms this month marks the dawn of the final chapter, the denouement, you may say, where all possibilities are on the table. Ten games remain. Ten crucial, thrilling cup finals face the Hawks on this jittering road to salvation. Next stop, Phoenix Sports.
Slithering down to the coast they move. An entire team’s identity moves with each passing game. Players, coaches, officials, fans, balls, kits – as one they bumble down in unity, pleading for a route away from desolation themselves. 17th v 19th, Whitehawk v Phoenix; let the battle of the inflamed birds commence.
Last time out
A two week hiatus ended with a first defeat in three league matches following a slow, sloppy opening half of Whitehawk football. A midfield that simply failed to cope with the pace and power of Herne Bay’s core, a succession of Zak Ansah tap-ins had his side two goals in favour after just 22 minutes.
But the second half was an improvement. Slowly they pushed The Bay backline deeper, grounding them down like water over rocks as Alex Laing provided the defibrillation, flicking Olly Munt’s delicate cross into the netting. Hope restored, yet there was to be no restoration of parity. A defeat on the road; the Hawks continue their search for a first win since the beginning of December.
When Steven O’Boyle was reinstated as Phoenix Sports manager at the backend of 2021, his side were languishing desperately at the bottom of the table. After many a month of toiling and grinding away, the results have begun to pick up as a miraculous escape proves a possibility.
Four wins from their previous nine fixtures has seen them leapfrog Whitstable Town on goal difference alone, whilst dangling a mere a two points adrift of Sevenoaks Town, and just five behind your humble Whitehawk. It’s tight at the standing’s foot.
Understandably in the midst of a prolonged drought in front of goal, finding the net has proved no elementary feat. Alfie Evans, Calvin Poku and Byron Walker have all billowed the chequered strings of rope on four occasions, as the loss of Jeff Duah-Kessie earlier in the campaign still wounds the south-east London outfit.
It was as the bitter chill in the air grew stronger by the day that these two clubs last fought. Beneath the thin floodlights of Mayplace Road East the Hawks shone through, storming into a two-goal advantage minutes after the half-hour mark as a Ben Fitchett own-goal preceded a Javaun Splatt rifler.
Duah-Kessie halved the deficit before James Fraser restored it, only for Alfie Evans to inject the flapping butterflies into the Whitehawk stomachs. The sturdy pair of Mo Kamara and Adam El-Abd shutting out the opposition, a narrow 3-2 victory was assured for Ross Standen and co.