Gale praise as Fogden lifts Hawks’ spirits

Wes Fogden celebrates his goal with Manny Williams
Wes Fogden celebrates his goal with Manny Williams
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Hawks boss Shaun Gale praised his side’s battling qualities as they overcame Dartford 1-0 at West Leigh Park last night.

The Hawks’ season was in danger of petering out after four defeats in five games ended their slim Blue Square South play-off hopes.

But Wes Fodgen’s 17th goal of the season – scored in the 33rd minute – ensured a fourth consecutive defeat was avoided as the Hawks’ bid to finish in the top half of the table received a welcome boost.

‘It was a very difficult, physical game, but full credit to the lads,’ said Gale.

‘It is difficult at this stage of the season when there is nothing on it but we did well.

‘We had some changes imposed on us but we handled it well.’

With Dartford eager to leapfrog the Hawks into 10th place in the table, the home side knew they would have a battle on their hands at West Leigh Park.

But within the first minute the Hawks showed their attacking intent when Sammy Igoe crossed for Leon Cashman but the midfielder headed wide of keeper Andrew Young’s goal.

The visitors responded by going on the attack themselves on seven minutes.

Ryan Hayes picked out Lee Burns in the Hawks penalty area but he was unable to test home keeper Aaron Howe as his header sailed over the bar.

Hawks skipper Ian Simpemba picked up a yellow card minutes later after catching Dartford’s James Rogers, before he sent a header from the impressive Igoe’s cross well over Young’s crossbar.

With both teams enjoying spells of possession, some lively work down the right from Hayes caused Hawks defender Jon McDonald some problems – and he was correctly booked for pulling the Dartford player back as the visitors threatened.

Dartford were looking dangerous on the counter-attack but it was the Hawks who broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute.

Igoe found space in the right and played in Fogden on the edge of the box.

His first touch took it away from the defender and he rifled the ball into the bottom corner of the net past the sprawling Young.

With Igoe pulling the strings in midfield, the Hawks refused to rest on their laurels as they sought to extend their slender advantage.

But with Dartford knowing the half-time interval was in sight, they held their own and nullified any potential danger to ensure they went into the break still in the game.

Dartford started the second half brightly but couldn’t capitalise from five quick-fire corners, with Howe comfortably collecting two of them.

The Hawks did well to weather the storm, forcing Dartford back into their own half – and Elliott Bradbrook was lucky to escape with a just a yellow card after a dangerous tackle on his marker.

Tom Champion quickly followed Bradbrook into the referee’s book for descent, before the Hawks created their first chance of the second half when Manny Williams played the perfect throughball in for debutant Bobby Scott.

But, with just the keeper to beat, he failed to find the back of the net with his tame effort.

A quick corner then found Ramsey on the edge of the box, but he pulled his left-foot drive to the right of the goal.

The Hawks made their first substitution in the 65th minute, with Mustafa Tiryaki replacing Scott.

The move was designed to freshen up the Hawks’ attack, but it was Dartford who threatened most on the counter-attack, causing problems for the West Leigh Park’s defensive unit.

The home side looked to goalscorer Fogden to lead them in the dying minutes, as he won some valuable free-kicks.

In one last throw of the dice, Dartford sent on Lee Noble in replace of Hayes with two minutes remaining.

But with the Hawks defending high up the pitch and managing to keep hold of possession, they held on for three valuable league points to end their three-match losing run.