Woodside Park, Bishop’s Stortford
Clearly, in karmic terms, I’ve been a good lad of late, as my foot-stamping huff over the fact other commitments had meant I’d missed our two biggest wins this season (4-1’s against Thurrock in the league and against Dorchester last week in the Cup) was soothed by this, an even bigger win.
There I was on Monday hearing about our progress in the Cup and how I’d missed ‘the best Hawk goal ever’ by Mustafa Tiryaki. Thankfully, YouTube is our friend down at Westleigh Park these days and so I’ve been able to have a look. From the side-on angle, to me it doesn’t look anywhere near as good as Richard Pacquette’s against Bognor a couple of years back, or Dean Blake’s at Welling in 2003. Then again I was behind the goal for both of those and long-range strikes always look better when they’re coming right at yer face. Thank goodness for the durability of the goal nets in the Conference South, is what I say.
Thankfully though, them Hawks must have realised I was feeling a little left out and put five past Bishop’s Stortford’s inexperienced keeper Bert Greenwood to allow me a taste of it. That said, it was one of those 5-1 wins which doesn’t feel particularly euphoric, as in fairness, we didn’t have to work that hard to achieve it. In terms of getting a heat going on the terraces, this game was so damp you could have wrung it out and filled a bathtub with it.
Mind you, after ten minutes or so of the first half, things didn’t seem quite so clear cut with Stortford leading through a freak goal by Lynval Duncan and our mob just beginning to warm up. It was an unfamiliar line up as well, with Bobby Hopkinson suspended, Sammy Igoe and Ian Selley injured and Jake Newton off representing Guyana in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Furthermore our recent marquee signing, former Portsmouth, Fulham and Serbia defender Dejan Stefanovic is not yet considered to be match fit, having been dragged out of retirement slowly like a reluctant octogenarian being co-orced into barn dance action by his eager grand-daughter.
Despite this though, we gradually turned it on and if that ‘it’ wasn’t 100% style and finesse, then it was enough of an ‘it’ to more than comfortably see off a very poor Bishop’s Stortford side. They didn’t help themselves, of course, what with having to play the entire second half with ten men after Sanchez Ming’s dismissal.
However by that point, we had a 2-1 lead, with Manny Williams having equalised with a crisp sidefoot after an gorgeous cross from Steve Ramsey out on the right. Inspired by this, Manny accomplished some brilliant by-line work of his own on 42 minutes, bamboozling the Bish defence and dinking a cross that Wes Fogden was able to guide in off his forehead from a seemingly impossible angle.
Making the most of the acres of space afforded to us in the second half, a third came just four minutes into it, Manny tucking home a rebound after a desperate stretch by Muzzy Tiryaki at the far post had only succeeded into pinging the ball against said post.
At this point, one felt that a big score was coming as the Stortford defence looked as clueless as a crossword compendium showing nothing but the black and white squares. However twenty minute periods of rest were bestowed upon the hapless Bish, with Wes scoring the second and third of his trio (which, I believe to be only the second hat-trick by an out-and-out midfielder in Hawk history, following Craig Anstey’s against Littlehampton in 1998*) in the 66th and 84th minutes.
Both goals were pretty similar in that Wes was able to tuck into a ball skimming across the six yard box, and resulted from build-up play which highlighted the skills of a new non-contract signing. The fourth was a showcase for bulky midfielder Hakeem Adelakun’s footwork as Big ‘Ak (as I shall know him) shared a 1-2 with Muzzy before Wes was able to slide in to score. The fifth and final saw Wes, after an excellent chase and cross from Big Ak’s fellow newbie Stefan Gaisie, take the ball at the back post and make the most of the time given to him to sidefoot the ball home.
Reading all that back it seems churlish to even hint at complaint about the intensity of this game. For the record I am willing to accept damp-squib 5-1 away wins every other week from now until May. Thanks.
*uncontested hat-trick anyway. There being a grey area around our 3-1 win over Salisbury City on Boxing Day 2000 where Tim Hambley may have scored a hat-trick, or possibly been robbed of it by Dave Leworthy nodding in the third just before it was about to cross the line anyway!