SEAGULLS DOWN HAWKS TO SOAR OFF THE BOTTOM
Another brace from Brad Ash saw Weston-super-Mare climb off the bottom of the Vanarama National League South table on Saturday afternoon, defeating Whitehawk by two goals to nil on the Sussex Coast.
Ryan Northmore’s side surged into a two-goal lead after half an hour thanks to Ash’s devastating double and produced a defiant defensive display in the second period, as the promotion-chasing hosts pushed for a route back into the game, to ensure that the Seagulls did not end the day at the foot of the league standings.
The game was marred by a mass brawl that lead to Whitehawk’s David Martin being sent off second-half stoppage time, while Clayton Fortune was sent to the stands for his involvement in the bust up.
The Seagulls boss was struck with an injury crisis before kick-off with a back spasm and a knock picked up in training forcing Dayle Grubb and Clayton Fortune to sit-out proceedings respectively, along with messrs Pope, Page and Llewellyn who are also in the queue for the treatment room.
Therefore, with only 12 fit players available, Northmore was forced to shuffle the pack, bringing Alex Byrne, Scott Wilson and Jacob Cane in for Page, Fortune and the unavailable Danny Wring.
Weston asserted themselves on the game early, and were rewarded for their rampant pressing with six minutes played when Chris Sessegnon’s misplaced pass was picked up by Brad Ash, who immediately lashed low in to the far corner to give the Seagulls a deserved lead.
The home side could have levelled shortly after, but Nick Arnold’s square across the face of goal was far too powerful for Danny Mills to get a vital touch.
The Seagulls continued to have the better of the first-half exchanges, and deservedly doubled their advantage on the half hour when tidy link-up play released Mawford down the left flank. The academy graduate’s delightful delivery took three Hawks defenders out of the game, with Ash rising highest from six yards to head into the bottom corner past the sprawling ‘keeper.
Pintsized playmaker Sam Deering almost halved the deficit towards the end of the first period, controlling on his chest before volleying left-footed towards goal, only to see his effort cannon off the post towards safety, ensuring that Weston had a two-goal cushion to cling on to going into the second half.
Whitehawk emerged from the break energised and stamped their authority from the outset, with Weston reduced to well-timed counter-attacks.
But for all their intent and possession, the hosts struggled to penetrate the dogged and compact Seagulls rearguard with regularity – Luke Purnell, Pat Keary and Ollie Barnes were particularly outstanding in their efforts to repel the previously prolific Whitehawk attack.
Danny Mills spurned a glorious chance to get one back when he was set loose on goal via Deering’s delightful flick, thanks to a sensational last ditch tackle from Keary, who diverted the lofty forward’s effort wide of the target.
Soon after, Deering struck the woodwork again when Mills was first denied by Purnell, only for the former Cheltenham Town man to strike the crossbar with the goal gaping.
With full time closing in, Weston could have put the game to bed but for Sessegnon’s goal-line clearance which denied Scott Wilson after he rounded the goalkeeper and slotted towards goal.
And as added time arrived, proceedings turned sour when a visibly frustrated David Martin lashed out at Bradley Ash after he robbed him of possession. Martin was immediately sent for an early bath, but his actions sparked chaos across The Enclosed Ground turf as a mass brawl broke out that ultimately saw Clayton Fortune and some Whitehawk backroom staff sent to the stands.
Full time eventually relieved those in attendance from a farcical ending, but it did little to dampen the jubilant Seagulls as they gain a vital league win.
Final Score: Whitehawk 0-2 Weston-super-Mare (Ash 6, 31)
Weston Starting XI: Purnell, Keary, Barnes, Cane, Edge, Byrne, Withey, Ash, Wilson, Mawford, McClennan (Plummer, 78).
Substitutes: (Not used) Fortune, Grubb.
Yellow Card(s) (Weston): Purnell, McClennan.
Red Card(s) (Weston): Fortune (Violent Conduct)
Man of the Match: Brad Ash – Scored two well taken goals to power Weston to vital away victory.
Match report written by Sam Frost