By Anthony Scott
Whitehawk’s impressive start to the season continued on Tuesday night after they eased past ten-man VCD Athletic at The TerraPura Ground.
What looked like a close matchup before kick off proved to be anything but, aided by Jack Holland seeing red for handball on the goal line after just 14 minutes.
Joe Shelley scored from the spot, and goals continued to flow for Shaun Saunders’ side – who eventually ran out 4-0 winners in torrential conditions in East Brighton.
Hawks were forced into one change to the starting line up from the draw at Ashford on Saturday, with Kai Brown coming in for Charlie Harris who picked up a slight knock.
The visitors – who sat sixth ahead of the game – were short themselves with manager Grant Basey having to fill in at centre-back.
And it was the hosts who started on the front foot. Having won a free-kick 35 yards out, Will Miles tried his luck in challenging conditions. His effort bounced in front of Harry Brooks to make it awkward for the keeper, who pushed the ball away diving to his right.
Shaun Saunders’ side were then given a great opportunity to get control of proceedings after 14 minutes. A corner was swung in from the right was met by a header which came back off the bar. VCD couldn’t get the ball away and Nathan Cooper’s firm header was well saved on the line by defender Jack Holland who was shown a straight red by referee Josh Langley-Fineing.
Joe Shelley stepped up, and planted the ball low beyond the reach of Brooks and into the bottom right hand corner.
VCD’s night then went from bad to worse. Following Miles’ fierce free-kick on the edge of the box, Andrew Allassani was forced off with concussion after blocking the centre-halves powerful effort.
Hawks should have then doubled the lead ten minutes later. A poor header back from former Hawk Declan Kama was intercepted by Kai Brown who looked to take the ball around a stranded Brooks, but from a tight angle he fired over.
There was then concern for the hosts, with Harry Shooman coming off after 35 minutes with what looked like an injury – Simon Marklin replaced him with Stefan Wright dropping to left-back.
And it took the Hawks just five second half minutes to double their lead. Shooting towards the Din, Rob O’Toole was first to a loose ball after a challenge in midfield. Being egged on to let fly from the Hawks supporters behind the goal, his effort didn’t disappoint as the ball flew past the diving Brooks and into the corner.
However, Hawks were then dealt another injury blow. Will Miles went down and was forced off injured, with Shay Leahy coming on for his debut.
Chances kept coming the hosts’ way, though. Brown drove forwards from midfield before slipping in Charlie Lambert, but his low effort could only find the side netting with the angle growing ever against him.
And debutant Leahy produced a fine assist as the Hawks made it 3-0 with 17 minutes to go. Joel Daly actually kicked the corner flag in playing a corner short to Leahy, who whipped in an excellent cross to the far post where Cooper tapped home.
But the hosts weren’t done there. Just three minutes later O’Toole played a quick free-kick into Shelley. He fired the ball low across goal and Brown was on hand to tap in.
With ten minutes to go Daly came close to adding to the hosts’ tally, but Brooks did well to turn his shot away at his near post.
Late on Ryan Warwick came on for his first appearance since September after recovering from injury as the Hawks completed a comprehensive win to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Hawks: Glover, Morrison, Shooman (Marklin 34), Shelley, Miles (Leahy 54), Cooper, Daly, Brown (Warwick 86), Lambert, O’Toole, Wright. Subs: Harris, Marku.
VCD: Brooks, Greaves, Holland, McNeill-Nash, Basey, Kama, Adesite (Obembe 64), Allassani (Barnes 21), Phillips, Dent (Ozobia 68), Zak. Subs: Kader.