Hawks spot on in county cup triumph

Craig McAllister. Picture: Keith Woodland

Pike sees positives amid Borough’s misfortune

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Hawks Academy lifted the Hampshire Floodlit Cup after shootout success at Westleigh Park last night.

Josh Benfield’s last-minute goal forced extra-time in the under-18s showdown with Aldershot Town.

And then, with the scores still locked at 1-1, it was down to penalty kicks – with Matt Rowland coolly netting the winner in a memorable 5-4 triumph.

The Hawks were shorn of academy star Joe Noakes, who is now over the age limit.

But the side led by assistant boss Pete Joddrell and academy director Stu Page – in the absence of manager Paul Barton, who has been forced to take a break due to serious illness – had high hopes of defeating their north Hampshire rivals.

And while both teams played some neat and tidy football in the opening 20 minutes, it was the hosts who looked more dangerous.

Hawks striker Jamie Butwell was causing problems for the Shots defence.

But despite winning two free-kicks just outside the box, the home side were unable to draw first blood.

Aldershot keeper Luke Williams proved his worth with a superb double save denying Curtis Thorn.

The visitors then launched their first meaningful attack on the half-hour but Kofi Halliday’s low shot was wide.

However, the Shots broke the deadlock with their first effort on target.

Against the run of play Elliott Blair gave Hawks keeper Charlie Searle no chance as he powered home a shot from just inside the box.

Industrious work from Butwell almost paid off as the hosts began the second half in determined mood.

But after wrestling the ball from a defender, he teed up Liam Bradbury only for the winger’s shot to miss the target.

Benfield then stung Williams’ hands before Travis had to be alert to head clear from his own goalline.

Searle then saved low at his near post from the resulting corner to prevent the Shots stretching their lead.

And the Hawks were rewarded for their tenacity in the 90th minute when Benfield raced clear to calmly lift the ball over the keeper and force extra-time.

Searle and Mitchell Frost snuffed out the best Aldershot could offer in the additional 30 minutes, while Casey Bartlett-Scott tried his luck from long range for the Hawks but in the end spot-kicks settled it.