Justin Rose’s last gasp equaliser at Dagenham and Redbridge last Sunday not only sparked rapturous scenes in the away end, it restored hope and ensured the south coast club would be in the hat for Monday night’s FA Cup third round draw.
As fans of the club nervously gathered around television screens across Sussex, excitement built as the club’s FA Cup fate drew closer to being revealed and the potential meeting with one of the Premier League’s ‘big boys’ captured the imagination of hopeful Hawks fans.
Manager Steve King was looking for a trip to Anfield but there were no complaints when ball number 63 was plucked out to proceed Liverpool’s Merseyside neighbours, Everton.
Of course, Whitehawk must get past League Two opposition at the second time of asking, but with a trip to Goodison Park at the end of the tunnel, a lucrative fixture is set up for the National League South club as a carrot dangles ahead of next Wednesday’s crunch match at The Enclosed Ground.
A trip to take on Roberto Martinez’s free flowing side would not only provide a memorable day out for the club’s fans but also a windfall of money that Chairman John Summers would gladly accept.
There’s also the slim possibility of a major upset should Whitehawk seal their place in the third round next week, however all talk of ‘FA Cup magic’ to one side, the chances of that are very small and King’s promotion chasing team should focus on the huge task they already have in hand.
Dagenham and Redbridge may sit just outside League Two’s dreaded drop zone but with experienced striker Jamie Cureton in their side, the London outfit pose a massive threat going forward and won’t surrender their place within the FA Cup without a fight.
Whitehawk dominated for long spells in the first meeting and deserved the late equaliser they got to take the contest back to Sussex. King will be asking his players for more of the same next Wednesday and now the stakes are increased, it has every ingredient needed for a fascinating night on the south coast.
The Enclosed Ground holds just over 2,000 spectators, however the club’s league attendances are often a low three-figured sum. In comparison, Goodison Park holds just shy of 40,000 people and although the fixture would attract far less than the grounds capacity, the financial benefit and experience would be priceless for all involved at the club.
But first, the biggest game in the club’s history awaits on Wednesday evening and a trip to Everton in the next round must be used as an incentive, not a distraction.
One step at a time for Steve King and his men, a packed house will watch the drama unfold as Dagenham make the short trip south and come Thursday morning, Whitehawk will either be booking their tickets north or cancelling a dream that came so close to fruition.