‘Worrying’ FA Cup exit for Hawks

Alfie Rutherford scores Hawks' FA Cup consolation against Dulwich Hamlet
Alfie Rutherford scores Hawks' FA Cup consolation against Dulwich Hamlet
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Assistant manager Ian Baird admitted Hawks were second best in their 2-1 FA Cup fourth qualifying round defeat against Dulwich Hamlet at Westleigh Park.

The home side were hugely disappointing and too many players were way below par against their National League South rivals.

A slow start saw them concede two goals in the opening 18 minutes and Baird was relieved they didn't sustain even greater damage.

Alfie Rutherford pulled a goal back before half-time to renew the hosts’ hopes of reaching the first round for the first time since 2014.

The fightback failed to materialise as the hosts meekly exited the competition, and Baird had few complaints.

'We were lucky not to be humiliated in the opening 25 minutes,' he fumed.

'It was a big chance for us to progress into the next round, which was our goal, but it wasn't to be.

'The long and short of it was that we were fortunate not to be 4-0 down after the way we started.

'Once again we didn't start a game well and didn't do the things that we wanted to do.

'We didn't press them highly, failed to stop them passing the ball and allowed them to put the ball behind us.

'That left us chasing the game.

'Our goal changed the half-time team talk which became a more positive one.

'I said to the players that they had deserved to get back into the game because they didn't give up.

'After the break I fully expected us to push on and take the game to them.

'Unfortunately for us we weren't good enough in their box again and certainly didn't work their goalkeeper enough.

'On top of that we failed to create enough problems for their back four.

'This is a day that we have to reflect upon.'

The pace and quality of the Dulwich forwards caused Hawks problems from the start.

On nine minutes a long throw from the left pinged about the goalmouth before an unmarked Christian Smith nodded home at the far post.

Nine minutes later the Hawks were exposed by a quick counter-attack.

The ball was played across to Aaron Barnes and he advanced to the right-hand edge of the Hawks’ area before firing an unstoppable shot across goalkeeper Ross Worner into the far corner.

On 28 minutes Rutherford fired a low shot through a crowded goalmouth after the visitors failed to clear a corner.

That was as good as it got for the home side.

'For the first time today we didn't create a lot of chances and that is a worrying thing,' said Baird.

'It is another home defeat, which is even more worrying.'