16.4.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Havant & Waterlooville

Connolly (28), (49)

Hednesford Town

Francis (90)

(1) 2

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

429

Stuart Lake

D L L L W W L W D L

 

Tiverton Town (H) 20.4.02

The Pitmen are dropped back into danger this evening as they crash to defeat at Havant & Waterlooville's West Leigh Park to leave them hovering just above the relegation zone once again with only three games left this term

The Pitmen's previous game had come ten days ago with an uninspiring draw against Cambridge City had earned both teams a point that does little to improve their relative league positions with the games running out. Hednesford manager Kenny Hibbitt made one change to the side that had started against the Lilywhites with Wayne Thomas coming back into the side at the expense of the misfiring Wale-Kwik Ajet, who was wasteful in front of goal against Cambridge

Havant had played at the weekend, unlike the Pitmen who had had the Saturday off due to fixture re-arrangements, drawing 1-1 at King's Lynn to leave the Hawks in fourth place in the league table ahead of tonight's game - re-arranged from last Tuesday night after the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. Joint managers Liam Daish and Mick Jenkins made stuck with the same side that had started at the Walks as they looked to move back into the top three with a win over the inconsistent Pitmen, leapfrogging the stumbling Tamworth in the process

The two team sheets presented a bit of a headache ahead of kick-off as both sides named a Neil Davis in their starting line-up, which meant reporters would have to be on the ball in getting their Davis's the right way around in summarising the game

It was Havant's Neil Davis that was to have the first real chance of the game in the fifth minute as the former Southampton youngster was played through the flimsy Hednesford offside trap by Neil Champion, only for Mark Gayle to narrow the angle and force the player in firing over the crossbar from a good position

Former Chelsea man Gareth Hall was denied a chance to grab a goal for the hosts in the ninth minute as he tried to turn a loose ball home from a corner kick, only for the referee to pull the veteran up for an earlier foul on Lee Barrow

A deep free-kick into the Havant penalty area by Richard Lucas in the thirteenth minute was flicked on by Stuart Lake and into the path of Derek Rae, only for the Scotsman to fire wide of goal and into the pack of hardy Hednesford supporters that had made the long midweek trip down the Hampshire

Good interplay between Thomas and Andy Brownrigg four minutes later saw Thomas escape the attentions of Chris Ferrett down the wing and send over a dangerous cross that was missed by both Hednesford's Neil Davis and Stewart Airdrie at the far post

Brownrigg saw his long-range effort easily fielded by Paul Nicholls in the Havant goal on eighteen minutes after a block by Daish took the sting out of the former Rotherham man's shot

The home side were dealt a blow midway through a keenly-contested first half as the influential Shaun Gale was forced off after appearing to pull up with a hamstring pull and was replaced by Ben Price

James O'Rourke got the better of Matt Gardiner on twenty-six minutes and turned a cross from James Taylor goalwards from eight yards out, only for his shot to lack power and was fielded with ease by Gayle

The Hawks took the lead two minutes later in slightly fortuitous circumstances; a free-kick on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area from Dean Blake took a wicked deflection off the four-man Hednesford wall and dropped kindly to O'Rourke, who volleyed the ball underneath the body of Gayle from close range before anyone in red could react

Back came the Pitmen through Airdrie, whose mazy run down the right on thirty-one minutes saw him skip past three challenges before Daish made a timely interception to put the ball behind for a corner kick and deny the winger a clear shot at goal

Daish headed wide for the hosts from a Blake corner kick three minutes later before Gary Connolly dragged a shot just beyond the far post on thirty-five minutes as he got goal side of Matt Gardiner

With five minutes of the first half remaining, Lake headed straight into the arms of Nicholls as he made his traditional darting run to the near post to glance an inswinging Lucas corner kick goalwards under pressure from Hall

Airdrie went close to levelling matters for the Pitmen two minutes before the break as he cleanly struck a free-kick from twenty-five yards out that was watched just wide by Nicholls

The hosts went close to doubling their lead with their first attack of the second period as O'Rourke got on the end of a tempting cross from Connolly but volleyed his shot just wide of the far post

Havant did stretch their advantage on forty-nine minutes to leave the Pitmen with a mountain to climb; Daish did well down the left to beat Brownrigg and cross for Connolly, who beat both Gardiner and skipper Mark Haran to the cross to head beyond the reach of Gayle to make it 2-0

Hednesford's Neil Davis showed great awareness to steal the ball from a dawdling Price on fifty-two minutes, nicking it past the Havant substitute on the edge of the penalty area before toe-poking his effort straight into the arms of the diving Nicholls

Ajet was brought into the field of play by Hibbitt on fifty-five minutes as he made an early arrival to the second period in replacing Barrow, thus changing the Pitmen's formation to a 4-4-2 in the process

Nicholls was called upon to save from Rae two minutes later as Lake's vision saw him play a superb slide-rule pass into his fellow midfielder's path twenty-five yards from goal

Lake himself was next to register a shot for the Pitmen, lashing a rising effort just over the crossbar on fifty-eight minutes as he held off the challenge of Champion to find a pocket of space in front of the Havant defence

 Ajet earned the Pitmen a free-kick in a dangerous position with his first act, allowing Lucas to swing in a ball from the left that Nicholls managed to punch behind for a corner kick under pressure from Lake on eighty-one minutes

The chances were starting to tally up for the visitors, who sensed an equaliser was there for the taking and a crucial point in their battle against the drop; Lucas's corner kick on sixty-three minutes was met by Haran, only for the ball to skip of the centre-back's head and across the face of goal before being cleared by Ferrett

A quick break on the counter by Havant almost finished the Pitmen off on sixty-six minutes as O'Rourke played Taylor in on goal, only for Barrow to make a last-ditch - and timely - recovering tackle to deny the striker a clear shot at goal

Haran picked up the game's first booking on seventy-one minutes for a crude challenge on O'Rourke that left the striker requiring a lengthy bout of treatment before being forced off and being replaced by that old stager from Hednesford's Conference days, Dave Leworthy

Thomas's second start for the Pitmen was brought to a halt two minutes later as Hibbitt made his first substitution in three games as he was replaced by veteran big man Kevin Francis up front. This saw the Pitmen change their formation again to a 4-3-3 set-up for the remainder of the game

Hednesford's Davis missed an uncharacteristic sitter for the away side a minute later, somehow turning a close-range effort over the crossbar at the far post after Airdrie had picked him out with a low cross

With fourteen minutes remaining, Lucas was also guilty of a shocking miss as he made a run to the far post and tamely turned a Rae cross over the crossbar when it seemed easier to score for the left-back

The away side were now camped inside the Havant half and continued to press for something to cling on to; Francis was put clear by Lake two minutes later, but the veteran lacked the necessary pace and allowed Nicholls to smother the ball at his feet

Lake headed wide once more for the Pitmen from Airderie's cross on eighty-two minutes, before Ajet was pulled back for a very, very tight offside call sixty seconds later after Rae had played the ball through to him behind the Havant defence

Havant were clinging on despite their two-goal lead and were dealt a blow with three minutes remaining as substitute Price was forced off with a nasty-looking injury that meant the hosts had to see the game out with ten men having already made three substitutions

With the game entering six minutes of added time, the Pitmen finally got on the scoresheet through Francis, who scored his first goal for the Pitmen this year as Lake's inswinging free-kick was headed firmly into the net by the former Stockport man to reduce the deficit

The visitors sensed an unlikely point and pressed once more in the remainder of added time for a leveller; it was Hednesford's Davis who had the once chance to grab a point for his team in the fifth minute of time added on, latching on to a pass from Rae but seeing his firmly-struck low effort saved by Nicholls down to his right-hand side

The Pitmen had battled hard but ultimately came away with nothing from a game they created a whole host of chances in but had once again been made to pay for poor defending at key points in the game. Havant move up to a place in the table as a result, whilst Hibbitt's men now sit in a precarious position, just a point and two places above the bottom three going into Saturday's must-win game at home to Tiverton Town - their final game of the campaign at Keys Park before they finish the season away at fellow strugglers Cambridge City and Newport (Isle of Wight)

Havant & Waterlooville: Nicholls, Connolly, Ferrett, Gale (Price 23 (87)), Hall, Daish ©, Blake (Wood 81), Champion, O'Rourke (Leworthy 71), Taylor, Neil Davis A    Subs Unused: None  

 

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Brownrigg, Lucas, Barrow (Ajet 55), Gardiner, Haran © , Lake, Rae, Neil Davis B, Thomas (Francis 73), Airdrie      Sub Unused: Simpson

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