Isthmian League

Preview: Three Bridges (H)

No sooner after strolling off a worn Haywards Heath lawn are the Hawks emerging from the tunnel of their own as another fresh opponent visit The Enclosed Ground…whoever said players need rest? Turn the attention briskly to Three Bridges, where fond memories of their previous venture still lingers in the air above. It’s certainly safe to type that much has occurred in this life and this world since that final game prior to the initial lockdown.

Few would have speculated in the aftermath of that 8-1 mauling in early March the sheer scale of what was about to rip through the lives of us all. Whilst thankful for those brilliant minds who put our own minds at greater ease, it is always important to reflect on the many that were not so fortunate. For all those who lived and breathed football, where 3pm on a Saturday afternoon was their favourite time of the week, it is they who will fly high and proud with the white hawk in the clouds above for an eternity to follow.

Last time out

Right, to the football at hand and it’s 13th vs 15th with just the single point separating the Sussex competitors. But first, a brief dive into the most recent of pasts with a moment to reflect on Whitehawk’s New Year’s Day 0-0 at Haywards Heath Town. Certainly not without its respective energy — a tad surprising provided its context — chances came…and speedily went on a consistent basis. It was fun stuff; an entertaining goalless draw that could indubitably have swung in either direction.

Both defences persistently resolute, Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke was particularly astute between the posts, rescuing his side on a number of occasions. But at the opposite end Billy Collings was in equally fine form, thwarting Javaun Splatt and Billie Clark as the Hawks pushed for a winner that would never arrive. New addition Alex Laing entered the fray in the second half, and displayed signs of encouragement for Ross Standen as his side move deeper into the season.

The opposition

Sliding down the A23 are Three Bridges, destined for East Brighton with four defeats from their previous five league fixtures. Whitehawk winless in the four that precede Monday’s contest, it’s a tale of two out of form contingents desperate to see their first triumph of the new year. 

Specialists of the draw, ‘The Bridges’ have been involved in a league-high nine stalemates thus far, three more than the next highest in that category. But it was defeat that befell them on the swap of the calendars: East Grinstead Town claiming all three points at Jubilee Field courtesy of Andrew Briggs and a late Alex Battle spot-kick. 

Dan Perry is clear as the club’s leading goalscorer with a valiant seven, whilst Curtis Gayler and the expertly named Ben Bacon each have three in the Isthmian League thus far, as the former recorded two in their recent 4-2 victory over Sevenoaks Town.

Previous meeting

Well, this was a one-sided affair. As the pandemic rolled in the Hawks were breathless in the final instalment of the 2019/20 campaign. Eight times was the Three Bridges netting rippled; ‘keeper Kieron Thorp seeing a red card in the first minute. They would finish with just nine men as Tadley Bromage was dismissed late on, but by then Whitehawk had already struck seven times: Ahmed Abdulla recording a first half hat-trick, before a brace from Lucas Rodrigues and Marvin Hamilton was accompanied by a late, rare, wonderful strike from an elated Luke Emberson.  

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