And breathe. For 84 minutes of this frustrating, sometimes difficult watch, Whitehawk were a side arguably second best. There were the moments where the Haringey Borough net should have rumbled, but then there were the times on the back foot, where the green arrows attacked at will, bombarding the hosts’ box.
But then there were the good times, the memorable times, and the extraordinary times. Charlie Lambert has been a man on a mission this campaign, firing home from all angles as he continues to breathe down the neck of Charlie Walker as the club’s leading scorer. He’d secure victory under the bright lights with a thumping finish into the bottom corner from 20 yards, and never was the guarder of the goal getting anywhere near this one.
In certain games his confidence can drop, as can his head. But his capabilities in the attacking third are irrefutable. A man who gambols across the grass, collecting the pass, breezing beyond his man. The finish was absolute, and the result was significant.
Haringey Borough made the punishing 108-mile round trip on a blowy Tuesday night with just one point in the bank. It has been a difficult start to the campaign, but on this night’s showing they will be just fine. Yet their vulnerabilities at the back in the fleeting stages of games is something that could cost them dearly. Three points slipped from their grasp, having executed Tom Loizou’s gameplan to the utmost quality for well over 80 minutes.
They attacked as unit, and defended as a family. Moving the ball about sharply, Whitehawk’s compact midfield had to be alert to suppress the ongoing threat. But as they pushed forward, things were happening. Joel Daly deployed behind Ben Pope and Louis Collins, he was the driving force once more, the cog in the machine.
With 32 minutes played the Haringey crossbar began shaking violently. Ironically, it was a figure in green that had caused the rattle, as Alfred Bobson-Bawling slammed a cross emphatically onto his own woodwork, with a relieved smile toward the Sea End. At this point in the half the Hawks were the better side, the ones stirring their support.
Pope pushed his effort under the legs of Ted Collins wide of the near post after intercepting a lazy back-pass, whilst Worrall crashed an effort into the stands minutes before the break having found a few vacant blades of grass on the right-hand side of the box. And then the whistle blew for half time, as the two sets of teams slipped down the tunnel, catching their breath.
Whitehawk – attacking the Din End in the second half for just the second time this season – still had a bit more of a hill to climb. Crafting chances was not the issue. Finishing them was. So when Daly took too heavy a touch, Luca Cocoracchio’s header was hacked off the line, and Stefan Wright drilled straight into the Collins’ gloves, the outcome was inevitable.
67 minutes had been played when a Haringey corner was swung towards the near post. They had still posed a hefty threat on the counter, and now they’d be in the lead as Walker struggled to snatch the ball, as it somehow found its way in. Sheer pantomime for the travelling cohort who, on a midweek night, had showed up in real force. Highly commendable indeed, for a side bottom of the league, and on their third consecutive trip to the coastline.
Cue the changes. Imran Kayani and Lambert thrown on for some more width in a pivotal change in formation. Almost immediately, Pope turned Wright’s cross onto the foot of the post, the momentum switches. Haringey clank the post with an effort of their own, as Alphanso Kennedy throws his hands onto his devastated head. The evening still lying in the balance.
Next, the climax. Kayani beats Collins in a footrace, and is hauled down to the turf. Whistle, point, penalty. That’s three penalties in four matches the Hawks have earned, and this one ended with the same result. A first Whitehawk goal for Pope, his campaign is up and running, as he sent Collins the wrong way from 12 yards.
Pope ran into the net, grabbed the ball and waved his arms at the crowd. There was still time for another. Haringey drowning under the constant barrage of swooping Hawk attacks, the time for a winner arrived. Hamish Morrison clears the ball as far as Pope, who plays the ball in front of the visiting backline. Now, it’s a race. Lambert glides past Scott Mitchell, composing himself, cutting in and firing fantastically into the netting.
The Enclosed Ground erupts, Whitehawk are victors once more. Up to 5th, and into the playoffs. It might not have been the most deserving of three points, but it matters not. The flag is still flying high over in East Brighton Park, as the Hawks shine bright under the tall white lights.