Isthmian League

Preview | Ramsgate (H)

There’s reason to be sparkling: the bright star above gently warms the faces of those below, Brighton’s beaches are littered with folk soaking in that vitamin D, and Whitehawk return to The Enclosed Ground with an unwieldy weight lifted off their red shoulders. Oh yes, the tops are off; the Hawks are back.

98 days. For a smidgen over three months had the words ‘Whitehawk’ and ‘win’ not been used in the same sentence. A prolonged Brighton-esque points drought with games of all proportion; all confusion, it ultimately ended in a fashion so distinctly memorable for the impassioned Hawks flailing their arms behind the goal. Breathe that sigh of relief. It’s time for a repeat.

Last time out

Without victory in thirteen attempts, it was beneath a setting south-east London sun that something special on show. A second half of pure emotion, wonderful drama no renowned playwright could ever conjure, the smiles would soon be flowing.

But the hosts in VCD Athletic would dominate the opening half. Timeless classic Kevin Lisbie’s ravenous movement proved too much as he found the net shortly before the interval. As time progressed the game opened up. The Hawks found their equaliser through Ashley Wadhams, steering his left-footed effort over the line.

And with five minutes remaining the turnaround was complete: Omarr Lawson thumping a low drive into the corner from just outside the box. Breathless. Yet still there many a twist left. Jeff Duah-Kessie caressed the ball beyond Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke to make it 2-2, before a fine Splatt header sent his visiting side into late raptures. You just had to be there.

The opposition

It’s easy to get a little carried away in moments such as these, but one mustn’t forget the imminent challenge that Ramsgate pose to the Hawks on Saturday afternoon. Sitting ever so dashingly in third place, likely to be one of the four sides competing in this year’s playoffs, they were dealt a surprising blow in midweek as Corinthian slipped away from Thanet 3-1 victors.

The lone Ram on the scoresheet for the twentieth occasion this campaign was Joshua Ajayi, fizzing one in to equalise just before the half-hour mark. The forward leads the league in goals scored, proving to be the catalyst for his side’s fine record in front of net. Their recent defeat ended a run of three consecutive wins as they journey to the Sussex coast with the hope of returning to winning ways.

Previous meeting

On a bitter afternoon in dying days of November Ross Standen’s side made the long trip to Ramsgate where defeat met them in the eyes. A slick move concluded with a glossy Omarr Lawson drive to catapult the Hawks in front, but two swift goals combined with an Ajayi penalty to round of a disappointing day.

It was a similar scoreline the last time Ramsgate played under the lights of The Enclosed Ground, but Whitehawk would be the ones victorious through a Lucas Rodrigues brace and a vintage Kacper Lopata bullet drive.

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