Rutherford nets twice late on to save Hawks from tricky midweek FA Trophy replay against Cinderford
Alfie Rutherford struck twice late on to save Hawks from a tricky midweek FA Trophy replay in the Forest of Dean against lower division opponents.
The striker’s brace ended the dogged resistance of Cinderford Town in a 3-1 third qualifying round victory at a soggy Westleigh Park.
Though the hosts dominated from start to finish, it wasn't until the last ten minutes that they finally settled any nerves.
Craig Robson gave Hawks a first half lead, but the battling Foresters levelled matters into the second half.
Finally, two Rutherford goals ensured a replay wasn't necessary.
Hawks assistant manager Ian Baird felt it wasn't a vintage performance.
'It was a game dominated by us, having lots of possession, without really creating too many chances,' said the former Pompey striker.
'We said at half time to be careful because everybody has got a punching chance,
'When Cinderford scored, it was indicative of how we were playing.
'It was pass, pass, no penetration and just like a training game.
'We got badly punished for it.
'Credit to the players, though, they raised their game after that.
'All in all it was a pleasing result and most importantly we are in the draw for the next round.'
The hosts pinned the Southern League Division One minnows back from the first whistle.
However, it wasn't until the 29th minute that they made the breakthrough with defender Robson heading in at a corner.
Careless defending on 56 minutes allowed the visitors an equaliser.
Goalkeeper Kingsley Latham and defender Simon Walton were indecisive defending a long ball on the edge of their area and, when it reached Josh Hunt 25 yards out, he lofted it into the unguarded net.
'We didn't play particularly well after tinkering with our system,' said Baird.
'Going to 3-5-2 was a little bit alien to us.
'That probably didn't suit us in this game.
'When we went back to our old system that was when we looked better and scored our two goals at the end.'
After Cinderford equalised, Hawks laid siege to their goal.
Goalkeeper Andy Hannah pulled off two terrific saves to deny Rutherford, who was also frustrated by the woodwork.
Just when it looked like Cinderford's brave rearguard action might pay off, Rutherford delivered the two killer blows.
On 82 minutes Josh Taylor squared the ball and the onrushing Rutherford side-footed the ball into the corner of the net.
The young striker scored again with virtually the last kick.
'Alfie, who by his own admission probably didn't have the best of games, ended up with two goals,' said Baird
'He deserved them because he always gets himself into the danger area.'
Hawks’ Vanarama National South game at Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday night has been postponed as the south London side are in FA Trophy replay action.