Rutherford strikes late to send Hawks clear

Alfie Rutherford. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171579-1)
Alfie Rutherford. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171579-1)
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The Hawks opened up a four-point lead at the top of National League South courtesy of a 1-0 win against Wealdstone at Westleigh Park.

The Hawks now have a healthy cushion over second-placed Dartford and still boast one game in hand on their closest title rivals.

Lee Bradbury made one change to his side with Dan Strugnell replacing Jordan Rose, who was ill.

Wealdstone, meanwhile, included former Hawks striker Mustafa Tiryaki in their starting line-up.

The hosts showed good intent from the start – launching an attack straight from the kick-off.

Wealdstone managed to scramble the ball away with difficulty after a brief melee in the area.

On 11 minutes, Jake Sheppard fired a 25-yard free-kick straight at Hawks goalkeeper Ryan Young.

But after the early action, the game developed into a physical midfield stalemate.

Rory Williams threatened to open the visitors up with a burst down the left but when the ball was pulled back Bradley Tarbuck missed his kick.

Workmanlike Wealdstone continued to frustrate the hosts with defences remaining on top until half-time.

The second half continued along the same lines with both teams lacking creativity.

Wealdstone went closest when Young spilled a 20-yard free-kick and the rebound was fired just the wrong side of the post.

It took a fantastic one-handed save from the keeper on 62 minutes to prevent the hosts falling behind.

David Pratt’s header from a free-kick was heading for the top corner when Young somehow stretched one-handed to tip the ball on to the bar.

The visitors were in control and looking more likely to score and disappointingly the Hawks were hardly offering an attacking threat.

But on 80 minutes they broke out to snatch the all-important goal. Wes Fogden’s shot came back off the goalkeeper and Alfie Rutherford, who had replaced Matt Tubbs midway through the half, knocked in the rebound.

Hawks: Young, Williams, Stock, Woodford, Harris, Fogden, Lewis, Prior, Tubbs, Tarbuck, Strugnell. Subs: Huggins, Rutherford, Carter, Robinson, Hayter