Match Data 2001/2002
Havant & Waterlooville 1
Ben Price (Anstey, 80)
Jonson (Saunders, 80)
Flemming (Miles, 87)
Coming in the wake of the fantastic win at Weymouth on Saturday I had no idea what to expect from tonight's game. Certainly Welling would be out to extract revenge for the loss a month ago, but having extended our unbeaten run by hurdling the formidable Terras the question did cross my mind, will the team relax just too much back on home soil? Of course the result proves that the ever vigilant Hawks remain the top of the league team that they are, weathering some last ditch pressure from the Wings with just ten men to record yet another win, and yet another clean sheet.
The home side came out all guns blazing. For a short period Champion, Price, Blake and Ferrett ran riot on the wings (no pun intended) landing balls in the box for Taylor and O’Rourke to narrowly skew either side of the post on several occasions. Paul Nicholls stopped Welling's only real chance in the early going, diving to the ground to stop a free kick from Gary Abbott as it skimmed along the ground round the wall. Lew Watts chanced a shot that bounced back off Gareth Hall and made it's way swiftly to Jamie. He turned a defender on the edge of the area for a shot that rifled over the bar. Set piece creativity saw a long Ferrett corner headed back across the box by Daish to a free standing Hall who half volleyed a shot over too. Dean Blake took a free kick that tantalised as it span loose in the box just out of Taylor’s reach, but Jamie again put it over the bar.
No shortage of shots in the opening twenty minutes then, but unfortunately few really challenging Glen Knight. At the other end Dave Flemming and Gary Abbot were certainly champing at the bit, but were finding little service from Welling’s slow starting midfield. Late into the half both Dave Powell and Steve Barnes started to show talent, working the wings with short passing play to get the ball forward, but any Welling offensives were smothered by the able and ever alert Hawks back line. Gale, Hall and Daish all played a superb game tonight and coupled with Paul Nicholls acrobatics in goal it’s certainly not by luck that five league games have passed now without a goal scored against them.
Amid dangerous moments at the end of the half the Hawks relaxed a little. Barnes struck a corner ten minutes before the break that rolled off the jumping pack to Flemming, but his deft chip to the corner of the goal was intercepted in good time by Nicholls. Welling captain Mike Rutherford then sent Flemming through the back line for a shot he scooped wide. The Hawks’ last chance of the forty-five came and went as Hall got tangled up with a free kick from Ferrett and lost a chance to strike.
The second half started with Shaun Gale chancing a long low shot from thirty yards. Knight scrambled across the face of his goal, but the ball was just wide. The Referee then dismissed Tim Hambley with a second yellow for a challenge that to my mind was no worse than any other during the game. I couldn’t fathom why Tim had picked up the only two cards in the first hour of a reasonably physical game, but Welling did cap the encounter by picking up three themselves in the remaining thirty minutes.
Free kicks at such moments are doubly dangerous as the team adjusts, and Nicholls did well to prevent Welling going ahead in the aftermath. As did he moments later after Powell struck firmly goalwards during a minor lapse in defensive concentration. Lew Watts proved fast enough to hamper the nimble figure of Jamie O’Rourke throughout the game, but in the 71st minute the centre-back could do little to stop Jamie thumping home the only goal. Chris Ferrett floated a long corner across the box to Daish, whose header fell short of the target but perfectly for the striker to follow up.
Having hoped that with ten men the team could weather the game to claim a draw I wasn't expecting to be looking at another three points. But they were there, and despite being a man down every Welling attack in the last half an hour met with a Hawks player somewhere on the pitch. Gary Abbott missed a perfect chance late on after Flemming played the ball wide to Powell, who chipped back in for the former Aldershot stalwart to head wide in acres of space.
But for Watts clearing over the bar with a header the Hawks would have ended the game two goals to the good, Daish again from a corner well on target with his own head. Substitute Craig Anstey turned in a good ball to Super Jim after man of the match Neil Champion supplied him up the wing, but Russell Edwards cut out the leading scorer’s chance. The final minute of the game saw all but two of the Wings' ten outfielders line up on the edge of the area as a last ditch free kick swung goalwards, but the referee called time amid the melee before the ball could hit the ground.