Whitehawk are champions

By Peter Butcher

CONGRATULATIONS to Whitehawk, who tonight (Tuesday) became Ryman League champions just four years after finishing 14th in the Sussex County League.

They become only the second team, after Dover in 2008 and 2009, to win promotion to the Premier as champions and then win the top section a year later.

It is their third title in four years, starting with their Sussex League success in 2010. The following season they reached the Ryman South play-offs after finishing third in their debut season, but lost on penalties in their home semi-final against Leatherhead.

Hawks are champions with a match to spare because Lowestoft, the only team who could have caught them, were held to a 0-0 draw at Wealdstone. That keeps the Trawlerboys in second place, a point ahead of Stones with an extra game to play.

East Thurrock maintained their grip on fifth spot with a 2-0 home win over Harrow, Sam Higgins scoring early in each half, and will effectively clinch their play-off place if they win their home game against Hastings on Thursday.

Met Police, in sixth place, remained level with them on points with their 2-1 home win over Hendon, but the Met have only one game left and trail by 15 on goal difference.

Howard Newton and Charlie Collins scored for the Police in the last 12 minutes of the first half, and Hendon’s reply from Kambo Smith did not come until deep into added time.

A goal on the hour by 18-year-old Evan Key earned Bury a 1-0 home victory over Hastings but the winners are now out of the play-off picture, as are Hendon and Margate.

Canvey, four points behind East Thurrock and the Met, are the only other contenders for the last post-season spot. Their game at Hampton was postponed because of a power failure in the area and will now take place on Thursday.

Thurrock did themselves a power of good in the survival battle, beating visitors Enfield Town with a lone goal scored by Danny Green a minute after the interval.

They are four points clear of the relegation zone and will be safe if Hastings fail to win at East Thurrock. So, too, will be Cray, Harrow and – almost – Lewes, leaving Wingate still in trouble unless they can get three points from their home game against Lowestoft on Thursday. They are on 38 points, one ahead of Carshalton and two ahead of Hastings. Carshalton have only one game left.

Lewes picked up a valuable point at Cray thanks to Nathan Crabb’s second successive double. Leigh Bremner put Cray ahead in the 35th minute and Danny Young added a second right on half-time. Crabb gave Lewes hope in the 80th minute and made it 2-2 in the third minute of added time.

Both sides promoted to Conference South last season, champions Billericay and runners-up Hornchurch, will be back in the Ryman League next season unless a relegation reprieve is handed out, and at the moment there is no sign of one.

Billericay’s relegation was confirmed on Saturday and Hornchurch followed tonight when the only team they could catch, Tonbridge, drew with Eastbourne Borough.

Where next?

Play-off dates THE League is still receiving enquiries about the play-off dates, which were published last summer.
Dulwich need one point THE race for the Ryman South title will go to the last day of the season, when Dulwich will need a single point from their home game against Burgess Hill to finish on top.

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