28.12.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Havant & Waterlooville

Haughton (43), Taylor (53)

Hednesford Town

Lancashire (84)

(1) 2

.

(0) 1

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

Next Match

510

Wayne Simpson

D W D L D L W W D L

Worcester City (A) 1.1.03

Hednesford's mini-revival is brought to an end in Hampshire this afternoon, as the Pitmen's three-game unbeaten run is halted by a Havant side who struck either side of half-time to take the points at West Leigh Park

 

Manager Ian Painter was again struggling to put a side together after a number of recent departures, with Stuart Lake still unavailable due to injury and Painter still looking to bring new faces into the squad. Paul Ware returned to the squad after serving his three-match suspension for a red card against Stafford Rangers, with Damien Charie making way for the experienced midfielder in the only change to the side that started Boxing Day's game against Moor Green. The Pitmen were stretched to the point of naming youth team player Robbie Bruce amongst the substitutes for the first time ever after promoting the teenager to the first-team set-up

 

Havant had been frustratingly inconsistent this term so far, with Liam Daish's side six points behind the Pitmen in thirteenth place ahead of this post-Christmas clash. Daish was able to call upon experienced midfielder Bobby Howe once more, having been without the former Ipswich man in their last game against Folkestone Invicta. Havant also had the luxury of a week's break from action after their Boxing Day clash with Hastings United called off due to poor weather. Striker James Taylor was leading the scoring charts in the Dr. Martens League with fifteen goals already this term and was to offer a constant threat to the Pitmen's back line all afternoon

 

It was a cold, miserable afternoon for the brave souls who had turned out for this game, lodged inbetween two local games for the Pitmen over the festive period. Havant had the ball in the net with their first notable attack in the sixth minute, as Tim Hambley turned a Gareth Hall header past Michael Bingham from close range, only to be denied an early opener by a foul on Bingham by Warren Haughton

 

Hambley was involved again three minutes later, as he escaped the attention of Darren Simkin and nipped in behind the Hednesford defence, only for his deft chip over the head of Bingham to dip narrowly over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

 

Bingham's excellent shot-stopping was in evidence again on fifteen minutes, as Haughton found himself clear of the visitors' defence as he was played through on goal by Taylor, only for Bingham to produce a fine save to smother Haughton's goalbound shot before Chris Brindley completed the clearance

 

The returning Ware tested the reflexes of former Wolves keeper Aaron Kerr a minute later, unleashing a powerful low shot from over twenty yards out that Kerr made a simple save from

 

Hednesford's top scorer Steve Piearce was handed a glorious chance to put the Pitmen in front on twenty minutes, as Ware's quick-thinking saw him take advantage of a dawdling Havant defence and played Piearce through on goal. His first-time shot was well-saved by Kerr, who only succeeded in palming the ball straight into the path of the incoming Kevin Francis; the striker inexplicably scuffed his rebound wide of the empty net - a shocking miss from the big man and one that was to cost his side over the course of the game

 

Back came the hosts through Neil Davis, with the midfielder trying his luck three times from long-range inside five minutes before finally getting his range with a low drive that was well fielded by Bingham

 

The pressure on the Hednesford defence was growing, although Brindley and defensive partner Wayne Simpson were in commanding form at the heart of the Pitmen's defence to deny Havant a clear-cut chance

 

And yet, the hosts took the lead a couple of minutes before the break, as ex-Tamworth man Haughton was on hand to tap the ball over the line from no further than a yard out following a corner kick from Chris Ferrett that was flicked into Haughton's path by the excellent Taylor

 

Havant went close to grabbing another goal just before half-time, as a quick break down the right form the home side saw Neil Champion break through and fire straight at Bingham, who had done well to narrow the angle Champion could aim at

 

Half-time saw the Pitmen make a tactical change, as Bryan Small was replaced by striker Graham Lancashire with the Pitmen moving to three strikers up top as they looked for a way back into the game

 

Havant started the second half in the same way as the first - with a goal disallowed; the dangerous Haughton was at the centre of the action once more, turning a Taylor flick past Bingham from two yards out, only for an offside flag to rule the goal out

 

Alas, it was Havant who were to grab the next goal just a few minutes later to leave the Pitmen with a mountain to climb. Unsurprisingly, it was Taylor who was on the mark for the Hawks, as he headed beyond the reach of Bingham from close-range after Hambley had played the ball into the Hednesford six-yard box from the left wing

 

Painter had seen enough from his mis-firing team, who were yet again failing to live up to their lofty reputations, and hauled Piearce off on fifty-nine minutes in favour of the youth and pace of Damien Charie

 

Charie added impetus and enthusiasm to the Hednesford attack and tested Kerr on sixty-four minutes with a shot from eighteen yards out that Kerr pounced upon

 

Bingham kept his side in touch with a fine double save on seventy minutes, saving well from Hambley before making an even better save to deny Taylor a second goal a minute later with an unorthodox but brilliant stop

 

Simkin lifted his rising effort high over Kerr's crossbar on seventy-five minutes as he made a move forwards from midfield, followed two minutes later by a Francis flick header from Ware's free-kick that sailed into the Hednesford fans behind the goal

 

Teenage defender Bruce was handed his first-team debut for the Pitmen on eighty-three minutes, coming on in place of Simkin to add more legs to the tiring Hednesford side

 

A minute later substitute Lancashire gave the Pitmen a brief period of belief, as he reduced the arrears with a fine right-footed shot that had too much on it for Kerr as it settled in the far corner of the net

 

Hednesford continued to press with something to play for, with Brindley going closest to finding an equaliser late on for the Pitmen as his injury-time header from Charie's cross landing into the grateful arms of Kerr

 

The Pitmen had ultimately left themselves with too much to do in the closing stages, with Havant ending their fine recent form to leave the Pitmen adrift of the rest of the top ten with just over half of the season gone. It's another tough away trip for Painter's side on New Year's Day, as they make the short trip down the M5 to play second-placed Worcester City at St. George's Lane

Havant & Waterlooville: Kerr, Gale ©, Ferrett, Champion, Hall, Hanson, Davis, Hambley, Howe, Taylor, Haughton      Subs Unused: Blake, Masson, Hale, C. Leworthy, D. Leworthy

 

Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Ryder, Simpson, Brindley ©, Simkin (Bruce 83), Rae, Ware, Piearce (Charie 59), Francis, Small (Lancashire 45)     Subs Unused: Maguire, Jenkins

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