‘Something has to give’ – Hawks take best away record in National League South to club with best home form on Boxing Day

Hawks take the best away record in the National League South to the club boasting the best home record on Boxing Day.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 1:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 1:55 pm
Wes Fogden is tackled during Hawks' win at Dorking in the last match between the two clubs in March 2020. Fogden now plays for the Surrey club, but is currently injured. Picture: Kieron Louloudis
Wes Fogden is tackled during Hawks' win at Dorking in the last match between the two clubs in March 2020. Fogden now plays for the Surrey club, but is currently injured. Picture: Kieron Louloudis

Paul Doswell’s side have won their last four away league games to move to within four points of the three clubs who are joint-top in a congested promotion race.

Despite a threadbare squad on occasions, Hawks have triumphed at Chelmsford (3-2), Tonbridge (1-0), Braintree (2-0) and Eastbourne Borough (2-1).

But Dorking Wanderers have won their last five home matches and enter a mouthwatering fixture on Sunday level on points with Hawks.

Hawks players mob Dean Beckwith after his dramatic late winner at Dorking in March 2020, the last time the two clubs met. Picture: Kieron Louloudis

In their last league game, Dorking triumphed 4-2 at Oxford City - one of the teams in joint-top spot alongside Ebbsfleet and Dartford - helped by a hat-trick from ex-Hawks striker Alfie Rutherford.

Hawks and Dorking haven’t met since Dean Beckwith’s injury-time winner gave Hawks the three points at Meadowbank Stadium in March 2020.

But they are now preparing for two clashes in eight days with the return planned for Westleigh Park on Sunday, January 2. In between, Hawks host Hemel Hempstead on December 28.

‘They’ve got the best home record, we’ve got the best away record - so something has to give,’ stated Doswell.

Manny Adebowale, left, has probably played his last game for Hawks. Picture: Dave Haines

Wanderers and Ebbsfleet boast the most home league wins in the NLS this season, with six. But while Dorking have suffered one loss - 2-1 to Hungerford in late August - Ebbsfleet have suffered two defeats.

For their part, Hawks have done well to maintain a place in the top seven given their injury, suspension and sickness record in recent months.

And slowly but surely, more players are becoming available for selection.

Striker Alex Wall could be in contention for a place in the squad at Dorking, but only if he comes through all three of this week’s training sessions.

Will Mannion's loan spell from Cambridge United has been extended. Picture: Dave Haines

Goalkeeper Ross Worner, who like Wall hasn’t played since mid-October, is also back in training.

Hawks, though, have extended Cambridge United keeper Will Mannion’s loan, which had expired on December 19. Mannion has done little wrong in his time at the club and will keep his place over the festive and new year period.

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Fans have probably seen the last of loanee defender Manny Adebowale, however. The centre half has not played since late October due to a groin injury and has been receiving treatment at parent club Crawley since.

Theo Widdrington, pictured scoring a penalty for Gosport in September, has joined King's Lynn Town on loan. Picture: Mike Cooter

Adebowale’s loan expires on New Year’s Day and Hawks and Doswell confirmed the club are unlikely to try and extend it.

As it stands, the manager has also ruled out bringing in any more loans in January. That’s the case even though Hawks have allowed midfielder Theo Widdrington to join his dad Tommy at King’s Lynn Town.

Tommy has recently taken over as manager of the National League strugglers and has signed his son on a month’s loan, though it will probably be extended until the end of the season.

Widdrington junior was loaned out to Gosport Borough in early September and recalled by Hawks in early November when their injury crisis was at a peak. Even then, though, he did not see any competitive league action and his only minutes have come in a Hampshire Senior Cup loss at Eastleigh.

‘We’ve got enough midfield options,’ said Doswell. ‘There’s Billy Clifford, Oscar Gobern, Jake McCarthy, Leon Chambers-Parillon, Nicky Bailey.’

Chambers-Parillon, now back in training after an isolation period due to Covid, is on loan from Oxford United until the end of the season. Another loanee, Torquay’s Jake Andrews, netted on his debut at Eastbourne and also in a subsequent friendly win at Crystal Palace U23s.

Right back Josh Passley is back in the squad for Dorking after missing the win at Eastbourne on December 11 following a concussion injury sustained in the second minute of the previous weekend’s home loss to Bath.

Hawks, meanwhile, are likely to face a player on Boxing Day who made his first-class cricket debut earlier this year.

Dorking handed a debut to dual-sportsman Dan Lincoln at Oxford City recently, and he kept his place in last weekend’s FA Trophy loss at Southend United.

Formerly of Bognor Regis, Lincoln had made his County Cricket Championship debut for Kent last summer. He had previously appeared for Middlesex in the T20 Blast two years earlier.

Former Brentford and Gillingham keeper Stuart Nelson, 40, had been in goal for Dorking but left in the wake of a 4-1 NLS caning at Chippenham Town.