The Hawks stretched their unbeaten streak to nine games in all competitions after claiming a valuable, hard-earned point at Sheppey United’s Holm Park on Saturday afternoon.
In a cagey, scrappy affair the Hawks’ answer arrived via its most trusted right leg: Joe Shelley recording his sixth goal from the penalty spot after Rob O’Toole was felled in the box.
Shelley sent Aiden Prall sprawling by sending him the wrong way to break the deadlock, and hand the Hawks a nine minute lead.
The hosts swiftly settled and had the chance to level the scores after Rodney Adamon Erutor could only direct his shot at Luke Glover, who turned behind for a corner.
Deshane Dalling made his debut for Whitehawk and burst into life on the half hour, cutting inside but seeing his effort saved by Prall.
At the half’s end the scoreline reflected the truth: the Hawks marginally edging it. As the players returned for the second instalment both sides opted for changes, with ‘The Ites’ top-scorer Warren Mfula on to replace Billy Bennett, whilst Charlie Lambert joined the fray by replacing Kai Brown, who picked up a knock in the opening half.
For Shaun Saunders’ side this was a half of frustration. Not purely due to the late equaliser but for the injuries that were racked up, placing the pressure on the visiting bench.
Will Miles and Dalling would both be trudging off the turf before the hour mark, as Stefan Wright and Aderi Arthur-Dede came on in their place.
Danny Leonard came close to handing his Sheppey side the lead moments prior to the first enforced change as the Hawks looked to settle quickly.
As time progressed so did the match: an open, high octane encounter that saw Jefferson Aibangbee sent off 16 minutes after coming on, and mere minutes after being shown his first yellow.
With the man advantage a great boost the game was in the hands of the Hawk, up until Stefan Wright brought down Mfula in the box that prompted another point to the spot.
Billy Bennett made no mistake from 12 yards as the points were evenly split on a mild October afternoon in Kent.
For Saunders and his squad it’s another venture over the border next Saturday with a return to FA Trophy action as Isthmian Premier Division side Folkestone Invicta host the Hawks at Cheriton Road.