Town Slip On Final Stretch

Whitehawk 1-0 Enfield Town

Enfield Town’s 13-match unbeaten streak in the league was halted on Tuesday evening, as they were defeated by the odd goal in a low-quality affair at Whitehawk.

The visitors were without several regulars – among them Dylan Adjei-Hersey after sustaining a broken nose at Hastings on Saturday – with Sam Robbins, Oliver Turner and Reece Beckles-Richards all recalled to the starting lineup. The latter had found some early joy down the flanks, but with their first real concerted attack, the Hawks caught Town cold. Having wrested back possession, Charlie Harris’ long raking pass escaped the attention of Robbins and Rhys Forster in the Town net, allowing Imran Kayani to ghost in and crash a side-footed volley into the far corner for his tenth of the season.

Playing the first 45 towards the elevated end of the Enclosed Ground’s infamous sloping pitch, Town confronted a very literal uphill battle yet continued to eke out chances. On the quarter-hour mark, Turner’s lofted ball through the centre found Beckles-Richards who, leaning back, scooped his effort over. Moments later, Beckles-Richards was involved once more, wriggling down the inside-right channel and into the area but his eventual squared cross was far too powerful for the oncoming Marcus Wyllie as Town’s number 10 skewed wide from close range.

As the pace of the game slowed with a series of fouls and pauses to retrieve footballs lost to the surrounding South Downs, Scott Thomas’ intervention was required to clear Rob O’Toole’s goalbound header off the line from a corner. The closest the Towners came in the first period was from a corner of their own; some neatly-disguised passes from the set piece before Beckles-Richards’ glancing header looped onto the angle of post and crossbar.

HT: Whitehawk 1-0 Enfield Town

Town had lacked a cutting edge, and Gavin Macpherson would have impressed on his charges to try and stretch the game after the restart. It was another clipped ball forward early into the second half which almost unlocked the Hawks’ defence as Beckles-Richards nodded onto Wyllie in the area, who stepped inside his man but his low shot was denied by a good reaction stop from Mitch Walker, plunging onto the loose ball to prevent Town’s front men seizing on any rebound.

Frustration started to build as Beckles-Richards felt, to no avail, that he had been hauled down through the middle. Meanwhile, Town’s build-up was again thwarted at the final ball, with Whitehawk’s hard running preventing any sort of fluidity in our approach that had gained us plaudits in recent weeks. Joe Payne could breathe a sigh of relief when a clearance was charged down by Charlie Lambert on the edge of his own area, but the eventual shot bobbled wide of Forster’s right-hand upright.

Heading into the final 15 minutes, Obi Onyeagwara and Manny Harvest were introduced to inject some extra verve and it almost played immediate dividends as Onyeagwara produced a couple of scorching runs to breeze past his defender and pull back towards Wyllie in the centre. Marcus slashed at his first effort before Whitehawk cleared their lines; the second move was arguably Enfield’s clearest chance of the match. Some neat interplay between Onyeagwara and Jonathan Hippolyte allowed the former to skip to the byline and drill across the face of goal towards Wyllie. This time, Town’s top scorer took an additional touch before rifling towards the target, only to find Walker between the sticks in inspired form to deny him from point-blank range. Not to be… eight additional minutes elapsing before the final whistle signalled Town’s first defeat since January.

Town: Forster; Robbins, Okotcha, Tanner; Taaffe (Onyeagwara 73’), Turner (Hippolyte 83’), Thomas (Harvest 77’), Youngs, Payne; Beckles-Richards, Wyllie