Isthmian League

Report | Cray Wanderers 2-2 Whitehawk

Ah yes, that same old word. We’ve seen resilience in a fascinating number of games this season, and the number swelled once more on a freezing night in Bromley. Cray Wanderers the opposition on this Wednesday in late November, they won’t be at Hayes Lane much longer but felt right at home for large swathes of this contest, until Ben Pope rescued a point in the dying embers of the match.

That’s the fifth time the Hawks have scored beyond the 90 minute mark, each time gaining something extra out of the game. But a response was needed after Saturday’s disappointed, and Shaun Saunders seemed to have got that in the end.

Charlie Harris earned his first start since returning last week, and there was a place for Lloyd Dawes in the dugout, also coming back to the club after a brief spell at The Enclosed Ground 10 seasons ago. He’d play about six minutes, provide the assist for the late leveller, and walk off a pleased chap. An attacking player, Dawes comes as Louis Collins departs, and makes an instant impact.

Stepping out into a National League ground, despite it’s emptiness, must give these players a bit of a buzz as they emerged in a cloud of icy breath with temperatures dropping below freezing. Charlie Lambert hastily injected some heat into the frost with a goal just 5 minutes in. It’s trademark, too, as his strike from just outside the box takes a wicked deflection before wrong-footing Shaun Rowley in the Cray Wanderers net.

Delight for the small yet vocal band of visiting supporters perched up on the terrace, who would endure the bitterness with some last minute scenes. Before all of that, though, is the case of capitulation. Whitehawk had grabbed their lead and decided to sit on it, warm it up a little. Unaware of an icy prong from behind, the 45th minute witnessed a fine Anthony Cook free-kick that arrowed into the corner. Mitch Walker helpless to the cause.

He’d be disappointed with the next effort; Gary Lockyer powering the ball at Walker from a slightly tight angle just outside the box, with the ‘keeper unable to prevent it from trickling over the line. Agony, and a disastrous few minutes moments before a break where Saunders would have already perfected. his team talk.

And with the starting of the second half, still complaining about the cold, Whitehawk were a tad fortunate to survive a few scares. Walker expertly tipped a goalbound strike onto the post, and that was followed up with another scraping of the woodwork. Imran Kayani was on, experiencing conditions some 30 degrees cooler than last week, as the Hawks started to press for promise.

And at the end of a long night where hope once again seemed to be lost, Whitehawk showed the ultimate resilience to bring a point back to Sussex courtesy of a late Pope header mere minutes before the end. Heartbreak for Cray Wanderers, who will feel they did enough to win this one, but we know too well that there is always a light at the end of the cold, dark tunnel.

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