‘It was more than deserved’ – Hawks boss Doswell on dramatic FA Cup draw at higher division Torquay

Paul Doswell saluted the ‘magic of this brilliant competition’ as James Roberts’ stunning injury-time leveller earned Hawks a dramatic 2-2 FA Cup fourth qualifying round draw at higher division Torquay.

Sunday, 17th October 2021, 10:46 am
Billy Clifford in FA Cup action for Hawks at Plainmoor. Picture: Martyn White

There were only seconds left of the four minutes of added time at Plainmoor when Roberts arrowed a delicious curling shot from the edge of the penalty area into the top corner of Shaun MacDonald’s net.

Though they left it very late, no neutral could deny that Doswell’s side - 16 places lower in the non-league pyramid - did not deserve the chance to stage a Westleigh Park replay on Wednesday.

Hawks were the better side in the second period, and though they twice fell behind - after losing keeper Ross Worner to injury after just 22 minutes - the National League South underdogs showed great character to keep themselves in with a chance of a ninth first round proper appearance.

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‘Was it deserved? It was more than deserved,’ said Doswell.

‘The first half was disappointing - we didn’t pass the ball as I wanted, we were just sticking it in the channels.

We were dangerous-ish, but they didn’t have many chances and neither did we. We had competed but we weren’t great.

‘We said at half-time we knew we could play a lot better, and the group agreed.

‘We said ‘don’t come away with any regrets’. This wasn’t a league game where if you lost you could put it right on Tuesday.

‘We went out and created chance after chance after chance. Tommy Wright and James Roberts were unplayable at times.

‘It was as good a performance from a Conference South side against a Conference National side as you’re likely to see.’

Doswell is now hoping for a bumper Westleigh Park crowd on Wednesday.

‘We need a big crowd to cheer us on,’ he remarked. ‘Torquay are a good side, they will still be favourites.

‘The job’s not even half done yet.’

Doswell revealed that keeper Ross Worner has a meniscus tear that could rule him out for several weeks. He is having a scan tomorrow on the injury.

He was dosed up on painkillers beforehand but lasted less than 25 minutes before being replaced by Charlie Searle, who was signed from Wessex Leaguers Baffins Milton Rovers in the summer.

It was only Searle’s second competitive appearance for the club, having previously faced Winchester City in a low-key Hampshire Senior Cup tie.