Friday, 14 April 2017

Hawkinge Town 4 v 0 Rolvenden

Friday 14th April 2017
Weald of Kent Charity Cup Senior Section Final
Lindsey Field, Lydd
Admission including Programme: £4.00
Attendance: 120 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

With a fairly long distance groundhopping outing to look forward tomorrow, today I decided to stay relatively local on this Good Friday, to revisit a ground that has seen significant improvements since my most recent visit two years ago.

The host club today, Lydd Town, continue to ply their trade in the Southern Counties League Division One, and the last time I visited, there was no perimeter fence to the ground, and it was fairly straightforward to enter the ground without paying admission. That is no longer the case, as there is now a wooden perimeter fence, with an entrance consisting of a hut and covered turnstile. It is pleasing that the grass bank along one length has been retained, offering a slightly elevated view, and the surrounding views ensure that there is still a peaceful, rural feel to the ground, with Dungeness Power Station visible in the distance. There is also now covered seating available, in the form of two small metallic stands. The blight of modern non league football, these do actually fit in quite well here, and a nice touch is that they have red and green colour seats to match club colours. As previously, the attractive club house is situated behind a goal with netting to protect it from stray balls, and the dark wooden tea hut is located towards one corner. The 8 page programme was predictably basic, offering a welcome message, squad listings, introductions to both clubs, and their roads to the final.

Both of today's clubs compete in the Kent County Football League Division One Central and East, with Hawkinge Town top but level on points with the two teams below them, and with just two games left to play. After back to back promotions since entering the Kent County League, Rolvenden were in seventh place in the 11 team division. When the two teams met in the league, the match finished 1-1 in February at Hawkinge, and Hawkinge won 0-3 away in December. Only four clubs entered the Weald of Kent Charity Cup Senior Division competition this season, Rolvenden beating reigning cup holders Willesborough Athletic 5-2 on aggregate over two legs, whilst last year's beaten finalists Hawkinge beat New Romney 4-2 on aggregate.

On a bright sunny day, but with a persistent strong chilly wind blowing from end to end, behind Hawkinge during the first half, this turned out to be a rather one-sided affair, and with just three minutes on the clock, the Rolvenden keeper almost paid dearly for trying to pass past a striker deep inside his own area when he was dispossessed, but in retreat he managed to just about smother the ball wide. Hawkinge had several further good chances to open the scoring, before Rolvenden had two great chances very much against the run of play. But Hawkinge took the lead they deserved on 28 minutes when Niall Jackson struck the ball on the half-volley towards the edge of the penalty area and the ball went through a crowd of players and into the net. They came very close to score on a few more occasions, before they doubled their lead on 41 minutes, a cross from the right wing headed home by Damien Abel.

So, a good lead for Hawkinge at half time, but one had the feeling that the game was far over, as Rolvenden would be playing with the wind behind them in the second half, a wind that if anything was getting stronger. And indeed, they looked the likelier to score  in the opening ten minutes of the half, coming close on three occasions, before Hawkinge scored what felt like the decisive goal on 58 minutes, Kieran Byrne driving a low shot from the edge of the area into the far corner. Indeed, that really did take the sting out of Rolvenden, and four minutes from time Hawkinge added a fourth, Cade Mortimer showing some good footwork to create some space before shooting low past the keeper.

So the favourites Hawkinge lifted the rather large shield shortly after the final whistle, as they certainly deserved to, although the scoreline was a little harsh on Rolvenden.

No comments: