Eastbourne Town were desperately unlucky to finish this pulsating Boxing Day clash without a point to show for their endeavours.
Danny Bloor’s side were superb for long periods of the match but a powerful Whitehawk side had just too much fire power during the final 10 minutes.
Town did well to hit back from an early Josh Jones strike and levelled through Steve May.
Nathan Crabb gave his side the lead after a fine flowing move but despite competing well Whitehawk forced an equaliser from Josh Jones before Ben Godfrey’s late header stole all three points for the Ryman League promotion chasers.
Town’s game plan suffered an early blow when former Brighton striker Sam Gargon skipped beyond defender Dan Bowell and crossed for Jones to ram home the opener with just two minutes on the clock.
But Town refused to buckle and their five man midfield battled resolutely and they deservedly regained a foothold in the game on 20 minutes.
Goalkeeper Kieran Thorp pinged a fine long goal kick to set Nathan Crabb free on the right hand side. His cross found Kai Bicard who blasted his shot against Whitehawk keeper Chris Winterton and midfielder May broke forward and finished well.
Ten minutes later Crabb almost pushed Bloor’s side into the lead. Owen Kessack, who had a solid game on the left side of midfield, clipped a fine cross into the box, Winterton advanced from his line flapped at the high ball and Crabb shot through the crowd but it just whistled the wrong side of the post.
Sonny Cobbs could easily have seen a red card after a bad challenge on Craig Richards before former Eastbourne Borough defender Marc Pullan crossed for Jones and his header forced a great save from Thorp.
Ryan Storrie combined well with Steve May before Bowell was released down the left. Bowell’s cross picked out Bicard and his first touch was immaculate but his fierce shot blazed into the side netting.
Town were the better side and continued to pile the pressure on Whitehawk. May wriggled his way into the box and crossed dangerously but Pullan was on hand to clear as Crabb waited to pounce.
Bicard toe-poked an effort over the bar following a corner but Town soon forced the goal their pressure deserved - and what a fine goal it was.
Another decent passing move saw May link up with Bicard and his cross was met by Crabb who blasted home from close range.
Gargon was replaced by Jermane Hughes and Pullan, who hobbled his way through the first half, was replaced by another former Boro’ stalwart in Stuart Tuck.
Hughes crumpled in the box after a challenge from Steve Elliot but referee Max Tweed waved play on despite Whithawk appeals.
On 70 minutes Tuck saw a header cleared off the line by Storrie and moments later skipper Nicky Fogden produced a fine tackle to deny Kyle Vassell a shooting opportunity.
Five minutes later Nathan Crabb was thwarted by a brilliant near-post save from Winterton and that was to prove Town’s last attack of note.
The Hawks piled forward and Town’s defensive line got deeper and deeper.
With six minutes remaining substitute Hughes nipped behind the defence latched on to the through ball and produced a calm finish under the advancing Thorp.
Worse followed for Town when in the dying moments striker Ben Godfrey swooped low to direct a near post header beyond Thorp.
TOWN: Thorp 7, Storrie 7, Bowell 7, Elliot 8, Fogden 8, May 8, Cobbs 6, Davidson 7, Bicard 7, Crabb 7, Kessack 7 (S Crabb). Booked: Cobbs MoM: Fogden - solid at the back