The Hawks secured their first Blue Square South win of the new year as they defeated Boreham Wood 2-1 in bizarre fashion at West Leigh Park.
With nine minutes of the game remaining, Sean Gale’s side led 1-0 when they put the ball out of play so that defender Sam Pearce could receive attention for a head injury.
When play resumed, visiting captain Mario Noto sportingly attempted to return the ball back Hawks goalkeeper Aaron Howe.
But, to his embarrassment, he sliced it past the keeper and into the net, leaving the referee with no option but to award the goal.
To their credit, from the resulting kick-off, the visitors allowed Wes Fogden to run unchallenged from the halfway line and knock the ball into the goal to restore the Hawk’s deserved lead – an advantage they kept.
The win, however, was overshadowed by a serious injury to midfielder Bobby Hopkinson, who was stretchered off midway through the first half with a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle.
Afterwards, Gale praised the sportsmanlike reaction of the visitors after they levelled with their freak goal and paid tribute to the injured Hopkinson.
‘Fair play to Boreham Wood, it was a brilliant piece of sportsmanship to allow us to have a free run to their goal,’ said Gale.
‘That is what you want to see in football. It was a great gesture.
‘Everyone talks about the bad things in football so it is good to talk about the nice things.
‘I am devastated for Bobby because he plays with his heart on his sleeve.
‘He is a fantastic lad – still only 20 years old – and it is horrendous that he has broken his leg.’
Hopkinson appeared to catch his studs in the soft pitch after an innocuous-looking tackle midway through the first half.
It was immediately obvious that the youngster was in serious trouble and he was stretchered off to hospital.
The Hawks huffed and puffed during an evenly-fought opening 45 minutes, which ended goalless.
‘We looked nervous in the first half and lacked a killer instinct in the final third,’ admitted Gale.
‘During that spell we got caught playing at their relaxed tempo and we can’t do that.
‘At the break, we felt a bit sorry for ourselves because we thought we should have been in front.
‘We needed to make it happen and we went out in the second half, pushed Giuseppe Sole up the middle and raised the tempo.’
Visiting goalkeeper Elvijs Putnins produced an outstanding one-handed save to keep out an Ian Simpemba header before the breakthrough came in the 66th minute
Mustafa Tiryaki picked up a ball on the left and delivered a pin-point cross into the area for Sole to head beyond the outstretched hand of Putnins into the corner.
This was followed soon afterwards by the visitors’ unusual equaliser and their sporting response.
‘I thought we deserved to win and it was three points we needed,’ said Gale.
‘We have lost another player through Bobby’s injury and we are slowly running out of bodies.’
Hawks: Howe 7; Newton 7, McDonald 8, Selley 7, Pearce 8, Simpemba 7, Fogden 7, Hopkinson 7 (Ramsey 20 mins 6, Martin 86mins), Hinshelwood 6, Tiryaki 6, Sole 8. Att: 574