Ah, here we are: the long awaited return to the TerraPura Ground. 22 days of the calendar scribbled away since the Hawks last trod on home soil — a scoreless affair with Burgess Hill Town that left much to be desired — and yet, there has been a whiff of progression since that Sussex derby under the gaudy white lights of Whitehawk.
For three consecutive Saturdays (and one Tuesday evening) it has been the familiar jaunt up the increasingly lifeless A23 that has faced those travelling from Brighton. Loss, win, loss, win – that’s the Hawks’ story since our last home fixture. Win, loss, win, loss – that’s the form of VCD ahead of this contest. Omens….who ever said they exist in football?
Last time out
Bottom of the league and a fresh face in the dugout, Phoenix Sports welcomed Ross Standen’s side to the Mayplace Ground last Saturday for a richly enthralling encounter. Whitehawk whizzed out of the traps, scoring twice in swift succession through Javaun Splatt after Ben Fitchett had already slid the ball into his own net.
Jeff Duah-Kessie clawed one back from the spot minutes before the half time whistle; Leon Redwood adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area. But soon after the resumption and James Fraser added a third, tapping into the opposite corner from the back post. Commanding for immense spells, they soon fell victim to a wondrous Alfie Evans strike, curling beyond a rooted Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke from the edge of the penalty area.
Holding on smoothly for the win, a jump up to tenth with play-offs drawing steadily closer, it has been a productive few weeks away from home comforts.
And without further ado, the visitors to east Brighton: Vickers, Crayford & Dartford Athletic Football Club. Appropriately shortened to VCD, the south east London outfit have flourished in the early stages of the season. Settled in sixth position, they lie two points outside of the play-off spots with six wins, three draws and four losses from their opening thirteen league games.
Flying high in third place at the time of Whitehawk’s last home fixture, ‘The Vickers’ have stuttered of late, losing three of their previous five. Emphatically defeating Faversham and East Grinstead Town by the same 4-1 scoreline in and amongst this stretch, defeats at Herne Bay and, more recently Sittingbourne, have catered for this drop down the table.
Anthony Adesite leads the VCD goalscoring charts with seven to his alliterative name, whilst Marcus Elliot’s four sees him in the silvery second position. In addition to everything else on display, this matchup also provides a touch of the brotherly rivalry between the two Splatt’s as Javaun locks horns with Jamie.
On two occasions in modern history have these two sides graced the same turf. Travel through a couple more lockdowns to find the last meeting: a 2-1 defeat at Oakwood. Clutching a 1-0 lead courtesy of Marvin Hamilton, the Hawks capitulated with time fading fast as Malachi Hudson recorded a quick-fire brace to send his supporters into opening day raptures.
But the other meeting featured a scoreline that flattered Whitehawk. Ironically the opening fixture of the campaign prior, the Hawks fought hard after squandering a two-goal advantage to strike late through Duane Ofori-Acheampong in a 3-2 triumph,