Isthmian League

Report | Enfield Town 4-4 Whitehawk

Well, there’s a scoreline for you. How did it happen? Heaven knows. You’ll get nights like this, where the 90-minute programme follows no known script, organisation or ability to defend. Mix that into the pot, sprinkle a dash of clinicality and you’ll end up with a result akin to this one.

It’s been a feature of Whitehawk’s campaign, this. Coming from behind to earn points, wins and limbs. That’s the eighth time, in fact, that Shaun Saunders’ side have earned something from a losing position this season. A remarkable feat of character, charisma and courage, verified once again as substitute Louis Collins carefully lifts the ball over the stranded Rhys Forster, and into the netting behind with time almost up.

That’s a moment that sticks with you for a while. For great swathes of the second half, the Hawks rarely tested their opposition backline. A late penalty the catalyst for a chaotic completion, with Whitehawk somehow salvaging a brilliant point at second placed Enfield Town. And breathe.

It was just the one change from Saturday’s sensational dispatching of Lewes in the FA Trophy, with Tommy Brewer absent with a personal matter. We’re hoping everything is all okay with our Tommy, as Ryan Worrall slotted into the midfield on his behalf.

Approximately 45 minutes after the first blow of the whistle, the net had rippled five times. It was a contest between two of the division’s top attacks, yet Whitehawk will and rightfully should pride themselves on their defence up to this point. It has been nothing short of spectacular, yet on this particular occasion it was forced to succumb to the sheer brilliance of Marcus Wyllie and Sam Youngs.

The pair combining for 24 goals in the league – more than 11 teams have scored in total – suggested this might be a tough offering. And so it proved, as Wyllie calmly and convincingly opened the scoring with 11 minutes on the clock. Too easy to get to the byline, to easy to pick his spot. Whitehawk staring at another goal deficit early on.

Scoring from absolutely nothing. It’s something that was seldom seen last season, yet this replenished Hawks side, dressed like Les Bleus, seem capable of achieving just that. You witnessed it on Saturday, as Charlie Walker somehow engineered a shooting opportunity from a long kick from Mitch Walker, ending in utter gorgeousity. 

He’d be involved here, on 15 minutes, forcing a cross into the box that’s diverted by a defensive leg. Deceiving Forster, it trickles in to ignite the night, and bring the scores level. Cue an offensive onslaught as the game became stretched, open and restless.

The front three of Charlie Lambert, Dominic Johnson-Fisher and Walker would find themselves in excellent positions in and out of the box, but just lacked that killer finish, a decisive instinct. Truth be told, the Enfield defence was in disarray. Calamitous at the back yet ruthless going forward. It’s rare to see such a contrast as strong as this, but perhaps that’s just why ‘The Towners’ matches have spawned more goals than any other side in the division.

They’re certainly entertaining, and as the goals rained down on Whitehawk as the opening half neared it’s conclusion, that feeling of a potential long night was starting to swell. Against the run of play it was, Joe Tennent and Walker both had fine moments to alter the scoreline, but it was the inevitable Youngs, capitalising on a loose pass, who picked his spot, and put Whitehawk to the sword.

Wyllie sharpened the blade with his second of the night minutes later, allowed too much time to funnel the ball into the only place Walker could not reach it. There was still time for another twist in this ever-expanding, hypnotic tale as the unmarked Jack Dixon rose highest to guide the ball into the corner of Forster’s net.

That’s the half, and what an advert for Step 3. Free-flowing, attacking football at it’s very best, we’ll question the defence but move hastily onto the second serving, where Wyllie is at it again. This one’s his hat-trick, and the pick of the bunch.

A long, hopeful, searching cross lands perfectly at the feet of Wyllie who, on his left foot and with some angle against him, connects true to arrow the ball perfectly inside the far post. Walker helpless to the cause. Hands on hips, hefty sigh sort of stuff. A great task awaited his side now.

What little hope remained was kept beating by the immense Walker, who sprung out of his goal to deny a certain fifth on the rebound after the initial strike cannoned off the crossbar. Something needed to change, and it was Lambert and Johnson-Fisher who made way for Ben Pope and Collins with 25 minutes of the evening remaining.

The hosts had successfully negotiated a large slice of the half without trouble. Confidence was fading in the stand behind the goal. Tom Chalaye was now on the pitch for his first Whitehawk appearance, and Pope had just steered the ball agonisingly over the bar. 

Five minutes were all that was left as Tennent, seemingly bursting out of a portal, reached the ball milliseconds before Forster’s fists, as the centre-half fell to the cold floor. Penalty. Goal. Hope. Still time left in this one. Dixon making little mistake from the spot. Dashing into the net to pick up the ball, a fist of promise to the small throng behind the goal. The captain believed. Whitehawk believed.

Few minutes remain as the Hawks have a throw-in near the halfway line. Dixon hurls it to Worrall, who slams it high into the dark sky. Pope is there to knock it on, straight into the path of Collins. The bouncing ball is perfect for the forward. Forster comes out of his net, then immediately regrets it. Collins beats him to it, lifting it over the ‘keeper as it drops brilliantly into the empty net behind.

Delirium. It’s just a point, but what a point that is. A case of the proverbial ‘feels like a win’. Certainly, after being behind for roughly 80% of the match, will this one be rightfully celebrated. Sometimes a single word can describe an entire match: Remarkable.

How vital that point could be further down the line. The feast of fixtures on the road begins in frantic fashion. Catch your breath, for they’re back in these parts in just a couple of days’ time.


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