Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hawkenbury 0 v 3 Sevenoaks

Tuesday 23rd April 2013
Kent County League Division Two East
Recreation Ground, Hawkenbury
Admission and Programme: None
Attendance: 24 (head count)
Match Rating: 3

After a couple of weeks of silly season midweek groundhopping confined to Mid Sussex League grounds, this evening I headed to the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells for a 6.30 kick off in the bottom tier of the Kent County League.

The Hawkenbury Recreation Ground is located about a half hour walk eastwards from Tunbridge Wells rail station. Facilities, unsurprisingly, are very basic, with the football club's pitch situated amongst several other sporting facilities. A wooden building, with all of its doors and windows boarded up, houses the changing rooms and is set some distance behind one of the goals. The ground does have a lovely rural setting, with a few trees scattered together around the perimeter with some more colourful trees and hedges in the distance and with countryside views behind the other goal. Wooden park benches are conveniently placed close around the pitch, which was horribly bobby this evening and has a fair slope from the changing rooms end.

A glance at the league table in advance of this evening's fixture suggested it would be something of a mismatch, a real top v bottom clash. Hawkenbury have had a poor season, bottom of the table and three points adrift, and are favourites to be relegated from the Kent County League based on league position unless they receive a reprieve. Sevenoaks are the reserve team of Kent League Sevenoaks Town and seem certain of promotion, in second place, level on points with the leaders but with two games in hand. They were in great form too, having won their last twelve league games straight. When the two teams met in November, Sevenoaks won 6-0.

On a gloriously sunny evening which made the rural surroundings glow with colour, the match did not completely go to script, as it was surprisingly even in the first half, with the pitch probably being a leveller, as Sevenoaks struggled to play football down the slope. Sevenoaks did take the lead on 17 minutes though. After being encouraged from the touchline to play long ball football on this pitch, a long ball down the middle opened up a one on one opportunity with the keeper, and Andy Logan calmly slotted the ball to the side of the keeper and into the net. The remainder of the half continued with Sevenoaks disappointing and Hawkenbury always looking in the game, even if it was Sevenoaks who missed several very good chances.

Into the second half and still the match looked very much in the balance until the 78th minutes when Sevenoaks scored their second. A free kick from just outside the area broke down but Hawkenbury couldn't clear the ball properly, which was eventually drilled into the net by Zac Clarke. A minute later and the scoreline became as harsh on Hawkenbury as it was flattering to Sevenoaks when Sevenoaks scored their third. The ball was ran in from wide along the byline and eventually drilled to the near post where it was turned into the net from a couple of yards by Clarke for his second of the game. Hawkenbury steadied the ship after the two quick goals and there was little threat of further goals as Sevenoaks rose to the top of the table after this win and Hawkenbury stayed anchored to the foot of the table. Whilst Sevenoaks deserved the three points, there was little evidence of the gulf between the two teams this evening. 

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