Ten Man Hawks Steal The Points
In disturbingly familiar fashion, Weston-super-Mare were denied late on, this time by Whitehawk at the Enclosed Ground on Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Northmore’s side were able to execute their fluid and dynamic passing game in adverse conditions – a significant slope compounded by a biting coastal gust and constant drizzle – but were caught out at the last with second half substitute Sam Gargan’s thumping header in the 87th minute making it four successive defeats for the Seagulls.
It was the third time in as many games that the Seagulls had done enough to warrant possession of the points, except securing an ever-elusive second goal, ultimately punished by a somewhat unremarkable Hawks outfit who cashed-in from two set-pieces.
Two changes were made to the side that was edged out by Concord Rangers last weekend, with Jamie Edge and Joe McClennan taking the places vacated by the rotated Aaron Brown and the departed Jamie Lucas, recalled to join-up with the Bristol Rovers first team squad.
The initial opening of the first half was gifted to Weston’s stand-in skipper Dayle Grubb when centre-half Jordan Rose bizarrely lost possession on the edge of the Whitehawk area, allowing the mercurial midfielder to charge towards goal. Grubb drifted across the perimeter of the penalty box into a central position, finding a clear sight of the target, but his goal-bound effort was expertly tipped over by Craig Ross with 10 minutes played.
The Seagulls should have taken the lead on the quarter-hour after the collective hassling of the Weston midfield earned possession in Whitehawk territory for Grubb, who displayed supreme vison to release Brad Ash with an incisive reverse pass, but the energetic forward could not slide his shot beyond the dangling feet of the keeper.
The Seagulls went close again on 22 minutes, with Joe McClennan, in trademark fashion, bamboozling the home defence with quick feet, working an opening but his left-footed attempt dribbled just wide of the mark.
The breakthrough came from the home side however, with a driven corner evading the leaps of Clayton Fortune and Pierce Mitchell, allowing Tom Cadmore to have a free run at the cross, powering a low header past Luke Purnell in the 36th minute.
Former Wycombe and Crawley dynamo Sergio Torres brought a smart save from Purnell moments later, with the Argentine’s swerving 20 yard drive making life difficult for the Seagulls stopper.
Ash was replaced by Ollie Watkins at the interval, and within four minutes, the Exeter City youngster made the desired impact in his penultimate outing for the Seagulls. Jacob Cane launched a swift counterattack by winning possession deep in his own half before hurtling forward and sending a pinpoint through ball for Grubb, who centred for the arriving Watkins to slot into the vacant net to level the score.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Hawks were reduced to 10 men when a misplaced pass was pounced on by the electric Watkins, only to be bundled over 20 yards from goal by first half substitute Pa Saikou Kujabi, who was given his marching orders for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Grubb stood over the set-piece, and his free-kick eluded the wall, but bent wide of the post.
Weston were well and truly in the ascendency, consistently threatening a go-ahead goal, but Northmore’s side were not clinical enough in front of goal to make their control count.
And, as they were in their previous two outings, the Seagulls were to be punished for not taking their opportunities, this time by replacement forward Sam Gargan, who perfectly timed his near post run from a corner to send a strong header past the stranded Purnell to take the lead with just three minutes remaining.
The Seagulls were unable to muster a late leveller, and were consigned to their fourth consecutive defeat in the Vanarama Conference South, though Northmore’s side must be pondering how they have come through this phase pointless.
Final score: Whitehawk 2-1 Weston-super-Mare AFC
Goals: Whitehawk (Cadmore 36, Gargan 87), Weston (Watkins, 49).
Weston starting XI: Purnell, Mitchell (Barnes), Tillson, Edge, Cane, Fortune, McClennan, Mawford, Ash (Watkins), Grubb (Camper), Llewellyn.
Substitutes: (Not used) Brown, Burton.
Man of the Match: The travelling support awarded the accolade to Jacob Cane for strong performance in midfield, typified by his usual energy and quality of distribution.