The Hillians' fight to avoid the Bostik Premier League drop was dealt a blow by fellow strugglers, Whitehawk.
John Rattle (due to Simon Wormull absence*) was forced to make changes following Saturday’s defeat to Tonbridge Angles, with Boris Kipeya-Bonno missing out through injury, Tom Cadman only fit enough to make the bench, and Steve Sargent unavailable. There were therefore starts for Dan Choules, Tolulope Jonah and Aiden Enver – as well as returns for Josh James and Jack Malleret.
The game started with an immediate scare for the Hillians, as Smith-Joseph took an early blow – but the wide man dusted himself off. In the 9th minute, Rodrigues found some space out wide but Jonah did well to thwart the former Hillian. A major talking point came in the 13th minute, as the hosts were awarded a very, very soft penalty – with Beck adjudged to have ‘wrestled’ his man to the ground. Pinney stepped up to the plate and made no mistake. Moments later, Enver unleashed a venemous effort from distance, which Minter was glad to see sail just over the crossbar. In the 24th minute, the hosts doubled their lead, as Pinney got his second of the game as he headed home from Kissock’s inch perfect delivery. The Hillians had another mountain to climb… The referee wasn’t allowing any flow to game, which was beginning to increasing frustrate the Hillians. On the half hour mark, Muggeridge and Tighe both came close to making it three but the Hillians survived. Seconds later, Richmond came agonisingly close to halving the deficit as his header trickled just wide of the target. However, in the 33rd minute, Henry Muggeridge seemed to have put the game to bed, giving his side a three goal lead with a perfectly placed finish. In the 40th minute, Aiden Enver was on the receiving end of nasty challenge but the referee remained motionless, until the game was stopped with Enver requiring treatment. The half ended with the Hawks in complete control.
Rattle introduced Rance at half-time in search of some attacking impetus, but the game was dead and buried in the 51st minute, as Lucas Rodrigues made it four – smashing home from inside the area. The Hillians drew one back in the 53rd minute, as Dan Beck crashed home Smith-Joseph’s cross – with the help of a deflection. The end-to-end nature of the game continued, as minutes later, the hosts had a chance to make it five, but James saved brilliantly from Pinney’s effort. In the 63rd minute, Harding robbed the Hawks defence, only to be thwarted by the on-rushing Minter. With 30 minutes remaining, substitute Deda struck the crossbar with a dipping free-kick. Jared Rance had been a threat since his introduction at half-time, but the Hawks backline remained firm to sniff out any opportunity. Marco Correia was introduced in the 76th minute, marking his return from an injury sustained against Bishop’s Stortford. In a rather professional manner, the Hawks held out for victory – claiming three vital points.
A bad evening for the Hillians, which now sees just four points separate four clubs at the foot of the Bostik Premier League table.
Thank you to every single one of you Hillians fans who made the trip down the A27. It certainly wasn’t a performance that you deserved, but please don’t stop what you’re doing – we will keep fighting!
Next up, we’re off to the Bar…Potters Bar.
*Simon’s wife, Naomi is currently in hospital and is due to give birth to their first child any minute now – good luck Naomi!