And so east they ride. Fixtures crossed off from the schedule, the miles slowly racked up with voyages in all directions of the compass. Set the sat nav to Ramsgate; it’s the longest trek of the league season. The Hawks know this feeling all to well. Not four days prior were they as west as they could go, taking Chichester City to extra time…only for a chance of Sussex Senior Cup progression to be swiftly, cruelly dashed.
But that’s a knockout, and this is the league. Whitehawk have progressed – Tuesday’s narrow defeat to a side that once routed them 6-1 provides this radiant clarity. Three straight league triumphs sounds good, but this afternoon’s affair should provide stern competition, a time where a victory would be a dashingly good one. ‘The Rams’ have won four in a row, and sit high in fourth position.
Last time out
32 miles, 120 minutes, 4 degrees. The journey was heavy, the match was a marathon and the temperature was glacial. Regardless, a strong crowd lined the sides of the field as they witnessed Emmet Dunn striking deep into the additional minutes to knock the Hawks out of the Sussex Senior Cup.
A host of changes made – four to be exact, catered for some slight miscommunication in certain areas. The visitors probing strongly in the first half, but there was little life in the one that followed. By extra time Ross Standen’s side appeared content with penalties, The defence strong throughout, they were finally beaten by an accurate finish into the bottom corner.
But prior to this things were a lot more jolly, and lot less cold. Last Saturday it was, VCD Athletic the tourists to the TerraPura. Attritional football, it proved to be a fun weekend for the Hawks as Javaun Splatt struck either side of half time to seal three precious points in a 2-1 victory.
Ooooo, that’s far. Even our desperately professional binoculars don’t quite reach that far down the coast. Ramsgate today’s opponents, a side capable of many a goal, many a win: their 32 goals scored ranks second behind the league leaders only, Cray Valley Paper Mills.
Occupying the third play-off spot sandwiched in between Haywards Heath Town and Herne Bay, the Rams are unbeaten since October 23. Four successive victories, they arrive fresh from last Saturday’s 2-1 win at Lancing in which ex-Gillingham forward Ashley Miller struck twice. Whilst Splatt has twelve on the season so too does Joshua Ajayi, all bar one in the league. Jordan Chiedozie is a further name to keep tabs on; the forward racking up a prompt ten goals on the campaign.
Defeated just once in the Isthmian League South East away from home and twice on home soil, the Hawks have contrastingly remained unbeaten against the same three in VCD, Corinthian and Burgess Hill Town.
No time to squeeze an additional H2H in last year due to pandemic circumstances, the Hawks squared off against the Rams twice the season prior. The first meeting is nearing two years to the day, as a quick-fire Lucas Rodrigues brace was bumped up by a second half Kacper Lopata rifler that found the upper netting.
The Hawks recorded a 3-1 victory on that December afternoon, but there would further twists in the tale on the return fixture. Mid-February the time of year, it was the Whitehawk’s last visit to this neck of the (South)woods. Duane Ofori-Acheampong claiming two prior to the break, but this would be a proverbial game of two halves as a Marvin Hamilton own goal and a later Tom Chapman finish would equal a share of the spoils.