Match Data 2001/2002
Havant & Waterlooville 2
Ilkeston Town 2
Southern League Premier Division - Sat Feb 23, 2002
For the superstitious Hawk fan, Ilkeston Town are one of “those” clubs. The Derbyshire side have managed to win by a single goal in each of the two teams four previous encounters, including the memorable match at their New Manor Ground two Christmases ago when in freezing conditions Tim Hambley managed to miss the goal when striking on the line.
Unshaken by Tuesday night’s defeat, an altered Hawks side stood ready to change the previous track record. With Chris Ferrett and Tim Hambley ruled out of the side through injury, Ben Price appeared as right wing back and Neil Davis joined Paul Wood and Dean Blake in the midfield. Prior to kick off Liam Daish picked up the December Player of the Month award, and Jamie O’Rourke the Supporter’s Club January Away Player of the Month.
Better build up play at the start of the match indicated that Tuesday’s problems had been put well behind the team, Gareth Hall and Neil Davis both bisecting the midfield with precision passing. It was Ben Price though who floated the first cross in from deep on the left, his ball drifting just over Jamie O’Rourke’s head as the striker ran free toward goal.
Urgency in the Hawks’ play signalled good intent, and Gary Connolly saw a clear chance fail in the 15th when James Taylor played him square to go one on one with keeper Joel Armstrong. His shot though provided little to worry about. Moments later Taylor and O’Rourke missed Dean Blake’s well salvaged and dragged back ball, both strikers near colliding as it passed behind them in the six yard box.
A pile up in the Hawks’ area almost saw Ilkeston take the lead in the 24th minute. Unable to clear a deep free kick, the sea of legs prevented repeated poked shots going in, until Shaun Gale made a superb clearance on the line and Matt McKenzie headed wide for the Robins. Visiting Captain John Knapper also narrowly missed shortly afterward, curling a free kick round the defending wall to see it slam into the advertising boards behind the goal.
Play continued with neither side really threatening to break the deadlock. The Hawks took more of the ball, but failed to really challenge Armstrong, and the Robins looked to channel the ball down the wing when they could. The visitors took the lead in the 41st minute. Lenny Curtis sent in a corner that Glen Kirkwood rose in front of Paul Nicholls to head firmly into the net.
Moments later, Jamie O’Rourke picked up a through ball from Gareth Hall but shot wide, and then Hall himself saw Armstrong collect the ball at his feet when racing to meet a curved free kick from Gary Connolly.
Three minutes into injury time the Robins scored again. Looking to duplicate the previous goal exactly, Kirkwood leapt once more to meet an identical corner, but this time headed the ball onto the bar. The rebound however fell directly to ex-Burton Albion forward David Holmes, whose positioning was perfect for an easy close strike.
Down but not out, the Hawks started the second half quickly with Neil Davis seeing a glancing header tangle in the side netting just 70 seconds in. Seven minutes later O’Rourke popped a ball square to Taylor in the box, who shot low and under the diving Armstrong, but it bounced agonisingly off the post. This was followed by two corners for the home side, whose bid to pile pressure on the visitors looked to be paying off. Matt McKenzie however cleared both, as he managed to do for most of the game.
It looked as though perhaps luck would be against the Hawks as more chances went astray. Gary Middleton miskicked a clearance that looped over his shoulder and allowed Jamie O’Rourke a shot, but the spinning ball hooked wide of the upright. Unexpected intervention brought the opening twenty minutes of the half to a close with a goal for the Hawks. James Whitehead stretched to tackle Jamie O’Rourke as he ran goalward, and took his legs clean from under him well inside the box. Debate as to why Whitehead, in a last man position, wasn’t carded will ensue, but Super Jim dispatched the penalty with ease to put the Hawks back in the match.
In the 78th minute Taylor hit the post for a second time with Armstrong scrambling across the goal, as a super chip from Dean Blake dropped into the box. The Robins were seeing few chances as Hawks shots flew wide, and as the midfield struggle heated up tensions mounted on both sides. It was a second penalty that decided matters, referee Steve Creighton spotting a handball from Kirkwood as a lofted corner from Blake ricocheted in the box. Taylor opted to put his second the other way, and Armstrong guessed correctly to block the shot. His grasp failed him though and as the ball ran free, Taylor followed up to lift it over him and in.
As the six minutes of injury time started Neil Davis missed a perfect opportunity. Jamie O’Rourke saw him running centrally and unmarked, and crossed to him to play him free. The pressure of the moment however saw the midfielder slice his intended top corner shot well wide.
The last chance of the game came to be Ilkeston’s best of the half. Breaking very quickly after another failed Hawks attack David Holmes could have sealed an astounding victory, but his shot failed to challenge and sailed over the bar.
Curiously, although Havant and Waterlooville are dropping important points in games at present, the other teams at the top of the table are too. With Crawley and Weymouth losing and Kettering drawing with Tiverton today, the table looks much unchanged excepting the rise by a single place of the Hawks, as goal difference places them above Weymouth and back in the top five.
Glen Kirkwood scores Ilkeston's first
Neil Davis and Paul Wood fend off pressure
Gareth Hall meets the ball
John Knapper curls round the Hawks' wall
Woody chips forward
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