Isthmian League

Report | Whitehawk 1-0 Enfield Town

Josh Nandhra is very good at football. So, too, was everyone clad in red that spent their Tuesday evening running around The Enclosed Ground’s firm patch of green.  We’re singling Nandhra out because for the 100 or so minutes played, he did not stop running. Nor did he stop harrying his opposing defence, striking genuine fear into Enfield Town’s backline.

It is an honourable accolade to receive the Man of the Match award when your own defence was immense, own goalkeeper utterly divine, and own winger wins the match by placing a long-pass deliciously into the corner. Nandhra, who turned 18 on Monday, played his heart out in the absence of Charlie Walker.

And a special mention to Rob O’Toole – the converted forward spending this evening in the midfield. It was a captain’s performance, and a gameplan that manager Shaun Saunders executed to complete perfection. Enfield Town arrived in 3rd position, ready for play-offs and hoping to extend their 13-game unbeaten run. Then along came Whitehawk…

On another night, as the cliche goes, they probably would’ve earned something from this final midweek clash of the campaign. A smacked woodwork combined with two monumental Mitch Walker saves – one just after the break, and one in the dying breaths – yet luck proved to be on the side of Whitehawk as they near the finish line in the finest of form.

Consistency such as this is certainly positive for the campaign to come, but for those that came to soak up the sights of The Enclosed Ground before the break, they were treated to a real gem of a performance. And with three minutes on the clock the evening’s fate was sealed. It’s Charlie Harris with the most sublime of diagonals, finding the Pakistan international with such ease as the forward guides it coolly into the corner – as if in some sort of slow motion.

The press of the defence from Kai Jennings and Nandhra was influential in stunting Enfield’s momentum. Options were limited as Whitehawk kept their fettle, kept their heads. It was a professional performance from the first whistle to the very last, with this perhaps the most pleasing display of the season.

Reece Beckles-Richards clanked the post late in the opening half as the visiting pressure started to swell. Luca Cocoracchio and Joe Tennent have been a resolute pairing following the departure of Nathan Cooper last summer, and Tuesday encapsulated just how far these two have come. 

The interval arrived as a full moon rose over the adjacent hills. On the field Walker was down hastily to expertly thwart the league’s top-scorer, Marcus Wyllie. Sam Youngs and Wyllie have combined for 53 league goals this season – by far the most clinical attacking duo in the division. Both were present on Tuesday evening, and neither were able to turn the ball into the net.

Testament to an indefatigable defence that simply did not stop working, they provided the foundation for not only the Hawks’ fourth consecutive home victory, but the fourth consecutive home match without conceding. That, right there, is fortress territory. 

Charlie Lambert sprinted through at the end but dragged his shot agonisingly wide. Walker was again brought into action with mere seconds remaining, somehow preventing the close-range effort from bulging the netting. Walker was wonderful, Kayani was clinical, and Nandhra never stopped. 

The reverse fixture spawned perhaps the most ridiculous of games this club has seen. Eight goals in a 4-4 draw. That’s four points Whitehawk have taken off Enfield Town and, following all the excellent results against higher opposition this season, Tuesday night’s victory might just have been the most complete of them all. 

One final Saturday remains, but whatever happens at The Enclosed Ground in a few days’ time, this has been a season worthy of all the laud and applause they are soon to receive. 


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