Match Data 2001/2002
Havant & Waterlooville 2
Gary Connolly (Leworthy, 79)
Daniels (Chapman, 87)
Chandler (Bowyer, 84)
Dent (Winfield, 70)
The Hawks’ top of the table position would appear to be paying dividends at the turnstiles as an unprecedented midweek attendance of 607, including such luminaries as Pompey legend Alan Knight, watched last night’s match against Folkestone Invicta. A slightly shuffled formation accommodating the loss of Chris Ferrett to a hamstring injury and Liam Daish to suspension saw Shaun Gale’s return to the first team in the centre of the defence. Aaron Cook sidestepped to fill Daish’s role and Ben Price swapped sides to replace Ferrett, his right wingback position taken by Gary Connolly.
The home side started with a considered attack. In a bid to take an important psychological lead, over the top chance tactics set to feed Jamie O’Rourke and James Taylor kept the ball largely in the Invicta half and pushed forward at every opportunity. In the 13th minute the pressure almost paid off as a particularly hardworking Tim Hambley smashed in the result of a great pass from Gareth Hall, headed down to him by James Taylor. The goal was disallowed as the linesman’s flag raised for offside.
Folkestone though were certainly not willing to accept the attempt to assert an early domination. Ben Price cleared off the line after a corner from James Virgo slipped through Paul Nicholls’ hands. James Dryden and Anthony Hogg spearheaded some very quick attacks, eager to use the full width of the pitch with passes at the 18 yard mark thwarted mostly by a Hawks back line still getting acquainted with each other.
Super Jim forced a good save from Kevin Hudson after a set up from O’Rourke and Hambley, and at the other end a chance long shot from Hogg saw Nicholls stumble in front of the ball as he got behind it. Jamie broke the deadlock half an hour into the game with a confidently placed shot between Hudson’s legs, running through the Folkestone back line onto a pass from Hambley. He then almost scored again when a back header by Anthony Henry fell in front of him, but from a narrow angle the shot flew into the side netting.
As half time approached Virgo took a cunning free kick that seemed to avoid the wall altogether to force Nicholls to make a low save. He then made another as Nicky Dent came close, just as he was ruled offside. Dean Blake swung in a great ball to super Jim, racing toward the six yard line, but he fell under the Invicta defence and was denied a penalty despite vocal appeals from the players and crowd.
A couple of noticeably poor refereeing decisions at the start of the second half drew outrage from the stands and seemed to irritate both teams. Taylor, downed yet again, managed to feed Jamie to put him one on one again, but Hudson spread himself wide and low to block O’Rourke’s side footed effort. Invicta picked up strength and capitalising on some patchy home team play equalised in the 57th minute. Browne took two attempts to get a cross in from the edge of the box, the second low and goal bound but made sure of by Nicky Dent, who slid into it to take it into the net.
That revitalised the Kent side, and just six minutes later they scored again. Scott Daniels rose to nod in a Virgo corner unchallenged in a swift and perfectly executed move. The Hawks started to lose their shape as the team tried to regain too much too quickly, and through the middle of the half it looked as if the unbeaten run was coming to an end. The disarray culminated in Neil Champion being dismissed from the field for a second bookable offence, a rash tackle on Browne sending him to the showers.
Ten minutes from time a masterstroke of a substitution turned the tide back in the Hawks’ favour. Leworthy came on, not as usual replacing O’Rourke, but Connolly. Sitting just behind the front two, Dave’s first impact on the match was a trademark thirty yard thunderbolt that cracked off the top of the post. With the team unusually weighted at the front, the three pronged attack caught Folkestone by surprise and building pressure paid off in the 83rd minute when Hambley shot a great ball forward to Taylor, who slipped it across for Jamie to bang in.