By Isaac Gleave
The fledgling Hawks got their Isthmian Youth League South campaign off to the perfect start as they produced a ruthless attacking display against Bognor Regis Town on a rain-soaked night at the TerraPura Stadium.
Fresh off the back of a resounding 10-0 win against Worthing United last time out, the Hawks were evidently high on confidence as all of the front three in Josh Paine, Ollie Munt and Demas Ramsis recorded hat-tricks as they tore apart their opponents on an extraordinary night for the hosts.
Despite the Hawks’ sheer dominance, it was the ‘Rocks’ who took an early lead in the swirling rain just two minutes in. A hopeful free-kick near the centre-circle was floated in towards the box, and in an attempt to clear it, Sid O’Neill inadvertently headed it back towards goal, where Ollie Hawkins got the better of Jacob Campbell to head home. Billie Clark thought he had put the hosts on level-terms minutes later, but his finish was met with the linesman’s flag as he was adjudged offside.
After a multitude of chances for the Hawks, the equaliser finally arrived fifteen minutes in. Sean McSwiney threaded a delightful through-ball to the onrushing Clark, who knocked it back for Paine, who did the rest from six yards to level the scores. Within minutes, Munt had given Whitehawk the lead with an exceptional curling strike that found the top-left corner, after Ramsis had headed the ball into the striker’s path. Ramsis, again involved, put in a strong challenge to win the ball back for the hosts, he played it into the path of Clark who took it in his stride, before delicately slotting under ‘keeper Ethan Galea in the Rocks’ goal.
The Hawks were inches from a fourth after Galea spilled a long-range O’Neill effort, only for Paine to see his attempt crash off the post, and trickle along the line, and eventually out to safety. It was four soon after, however, as the ever-present Paine and Clark combined neatly on the edge of the box to present the latter with time and space to shoot, and he made no mistake to fire beyond the Galea.
Paine thought he had his second of the match after his attempted cross narrowly missed the crossbar. No matter, however, as the Hawks bagged their fifth just after the half-hour mark. Josh Paine was given far too much time and space to deliver a fine ball to Ramsis, who finished expertly to further extend the advantage. It was all one-way traffic, as the Rocks struggled to get out of their own half. With complete momentum, it was 6-1 ten minutes from half-time. Munt lined up a free-kick 20 yards from goal, and arrowed the ball into the net via the right post.
To say this performance was clinical would be an understatement, as Paine added a seventh soon after. An initial Ramsis shot was blocked by Galea, and, as Billi Heasman attempted to hack the ball clear, it rebounded off Paine, and flew into the empty net. Clark, who had been carrying a knock, was replaced by Sam Wright, and, astonishingly, there was to be one more goal before half-time, as Munt scored his third and made it a remarkable eight just seconds before the break. Paine beat his man on the right-hand side before delivering a testing, fizzing cross, where the ball fell to the feet of Munt, who dispatched smartly from close-range, to give the Hawks a seven-goal advantage as they headed in for half-time.
With no signs of letting up after the restart, Sam Wright, eager to get on the scoresheet, saw his strike fly just wide of the left-hand post. Shortly after, it was nine for the hosts as Paine created an opportunity that Dylan Little could not miss, and he calmly stroked home from just inside the six-yard box. For the second consecutive match, the young Hawks made it double figures on the stroke of the hour. O’Neill won the ball back 35 yards from goal, who released Paine, and he accurately stroked it into the bottom-right corner from just outside the box.
Another free-flowing move, and another goal for the Hawks as Ramsis added his second of the match. Paine was given the freedom of the TerraPura to pick his pass for the surging Ramsis, who added the Hawks’ eleventh of the match. Ollie Hawkins almost scored his second of the contest, after he put Campbell under pressure to block an upfield pass but, to the Hawks’ relief, it flew a whisker wide of the post. At the other end, Joe Marchant glanced home from close-range to further extend the Hawks’ staggering lead, before arguably the pick of the bunch for Ramsis’ third, and Whitehawk’s thirteenth. The forward, who had been instrumental for the entire night, controlled beautifully on the right-hand side of the box, spinning his man, before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top-right corner, with still twenty more minutes to play.
Theo Likaj was given his marching orders after seeing a second-yellow for dissent, before Paine made it fourteen in the eighty-fourth minute. Sam Wright went on a mazy run, twisting and turning the defence, before being felled, leaving the referee with no other choice than to point to the spot. Paine stepped up, and smashed it beyond Galea for his fourth, and Whitehawk’s fourteenth.
A resounding and emphatic win for the young Hawks. A flawless performance, minus the early Rocks goal, should put the fledgling talent in excellent stead as they take a short break before making the trip to Burgess Hill Town in two-week’s time.
Hawks line-up: Campbell, Hickingbotham, Marchant, Little (Le Seve 62), McSwiney, Pinnock, Clark (Wright 45), O’Neill, Paine, Munt (Harrison 56), Ramsis