As the last bulk of bodies shimmied through the gate and out onto the radiant setting that stood before them, a sense of the familiar flooded through to their minds. Months have passed with those hanging grey clouds above, shivering skins on seats that matched the mood of Whitehawk’s recent skid. Welcome to Spring, welcome to success. With the rising temperatures the Hawks have come out to play. Free from the nest, victories of back-to-back proportion were recorded for the first time since November 13. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
With the wind, the slope, and the swirling noise galvanising a side that at the interval would have been content with a point, the distant dream soon became a reality. Making that long sweeping journey through cities, villages and many a field were those from Thanet. Sitting high and mighty in third position it was inevitable a thorny Ramsgate side would grace The Enclosed Ground’s gorgeous green surface with their pace and incisiveness. In the squawking stands the usual band of laughs and scarves hung in the air. And by the end those smiles slipped out from the ground, and onto the streets of Brighton.
But back to 3pm. Winds harsh, sun bright. A minute’s silence impeccably observed. The Hawks matched the Rams on the pitch – a battle typically orchestrated in some fantasy novel, now depicted within shouting distance of everyone’s beloved Marina. Another new body in the midfield: David Ijaha returning to the club he once captained, breaking up play and spraying the ball with a degree of delight until whisked off in the 78th minute.
First it was Olly Munt seeing a hurried spank slap the gloves of the awakened Jacob Russell. His defence sleepy to Omarr Lawson’s drifting movement, an early warning had been sounded around the quaintness. Ringing true was the presence of Joshua Ajayi. More league goals than he has years on this planet, the division’s top scorer was ravenous as he feasted on a laborious backline….but to little avail.
The speedy Ashley Miller was to take first advantage of Whitehawk’s interesting high-line; Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke hopping off his line suppressed the oncoming threat as Miller raced through. A rather fluid opening phase, the excitement had evaporated to leave a more stale taste on the tongue. Operating along the right channel moved Ramsgate, only for the robust bodies of Adam El-Abd and Tyrese Mthunzi to lower the xG. Only the occasional ‘uh oh’ from the chanting supporters as the half drew nearer. The second helping had to be slicker from the host’s perspective. The elements would prove valuable in their quest.
That is, after Ramsgate stormed into the lead through the powerful right boot of Tijan Jadama. A rare lapse in Mthunzi’s concentration gifted Miller with a sprint to the byline where a simple cut-back allowed space for a pass across the face of Stroomberg-Clarke’s home. Little chance of stopping the robbery, Jadama stroked it into the netting’s corner. But the Whitehawk heads remained elevated. ‘Great character’, goes the ol’ cliché, and sometimes it speaks louder than any other combination of words. Last Saturday saw a similar story: conceding late on, scoring even later on.
So there was little surprise when Javaun Splatt capitalised on a woeful Jamie Coyle clearance to equalise minutes later. A gift of the highest order, Splatt’s toe took it away from Russell’s grasp before composing, finishing, dancing in the sunlight. A firm fist in the air to match the Din’s noise, now this conflict was equal, now the Hawks were sensing a second. Momentum swung, pinball in the visiting box as a result of Munt’s crisp corner. Neither the foot of the fresh Daniel Thompson or the inside of Splatt’s shoe could force the ball over the line. Corner.
Another Munt ball, this time it fails to beat the first man, but out to Ashley Wadhams it falls. Confidence still dripping from his debut last goal last Saturday, here he is to adroitly crash the ball into the saggy nettage. Every lace caught that one. Fizzing through the air at great speeds it screams between the post and paw to send Whitehawk on their way with little over fifteen minutes remaining. Time for strong minds, stronger legs as they neared a famous victory over promotion-chasing opposition.
Game management superb, Henry Muggeridge’s booming vocals made sure of that as Stroomberg-Clarke was seldom tested. A dose of crosses dealt with, the hearts were in the mouths just the once as the Hawks’ ‘keeper clung onto Jadama’s point-blank header in the dying seconds. That’s the whistle. Heroic. A half full of thrill, it burst into life at the time of Jadama’s opener, and concluded with Wadhams’ settler.
To the dizzying heights of 13th they climb with the goals beginning to flow, this change in Season and swing in impetus arrives timely ahead of next weekend’s Non-League Day as Sevenoaks march down to Brighton’s chasm of colour and pride.