Match Data 2002/2003
Ilkeston Town 1
Havant & Waterlooville 5
Southern League Premier Division - Sat Dec 07, 2002
A certain degree of anticipation surrounded yesterday’s encounter at Ilkeston’s New Manor Ground. The Hawks had been out of league action for a month fulfilling cup commitments and while recent games have seen the side in their richest vein of form yet, there was the matter of the fabled clock tower end goal, and six previous defeats over six games against the League’s most northerly club. This season though the Robins have had a tumultuous start, with victories from just two of seventeen games.
Watching the players warming up, the travelling support noted over the essential and popular as ever Ilkeston pie and peas that Paul Wood was absent from the team. Word came shortly after that the Hawks veteran had been taken to hospital in Nottingham just after the team coach had arrived at the ground, displaying signs of internal bleeding. Woody however discharged himself after the game to travel back with the players, but will be monitored by a hospital close to his home in the coming week. Concern for him was certainly a topic of conversation yesterday, and everyone present wishes Paul a swift recovery.
The last minute change brought alterations to the side. Neil Champion’s absence too meant Luke Middleton gained his second league start of the season, and Dave Leworthy made an unusual appearance alongside his son on the substitute bench.
It was Middleton who saw the first chance of the game, a cross from Dean Blake flashing past him in the opening minute as the Hawks piled on opening pressure. Play then held up for what would become several significant minutes when it was discovered that the netting on the left side of the Ilkeston goal had come loose. Quick repairs were made, and moments later Tim Hambley put the Hawks in front when he headed a trademark Chris Ferrett cross through Ilkeston keeper Matt Nurse’s arms.
Taking the lead gave the Hawks time to consider their opponents, and while continuing to attack with sweeping midfield manoeuvres masterminded by the likes of Hambley and Bobby Howe, the defence got to grips with what firepower Ilkeston could muster. Early in the game the Robins threatened several times, only a lack of finishing denying them an equaliser. Leon Kelly came close a couple of times, but failed on both occasions to release his shots on target.
Nurse meanwhile had to contend with a buoyant Hawks team looking for striking opportunities at every turn. Howe put a corner in twice for Hambley to head wide, and Tim missed again when getting onto a Middleton cross. Howe himself brought down a superb up field ball from Alec Masson and rounded Matt McKenzie with it before firing hard at Nurse, and the keeper found himself making another aerial save when Dean Blake’s lengthy right wing run finished with a powerful drive.
At this stage Nurse was keeping the home team in the game, the Ilkeston defence uncoordinated and unable to properly support him or the midfield. The chances that did come for the home side, such as Heggs’ 25th minute on target shot, came from neat left to right switches after fast breaks started from quickly repelled corners.
Blake saw another long shot forced over the bar and Gareth Hall tried from a free kick five yards outside the area after Christian Hanson was brought down. Masson prevented Charlie Hartfield’s 44th minute free kick reaching the Hawks goal, and James Whitehead stopped Blake’s through ball reaching Haughton.
With three minutes of injury time already played events rapidly exploded around the pitch. Howe was brought down from behind by a nasty tackle, but received a yellow card for remonstrating, and Hartfield gained one too for Ilkeston. Heggs came within a whisker of equalising with a fine shot across Kerr, but the Hawks went two ahead into the seventh added minute. Blake dropped a neat cross from the right corner into the six yard box, and when Nurse collided with one of his defenders trying to clear the ball, Taylor deftly scooped it out from between them and tapped it over the line. It was unfair perhaps that the goal came in time added by the stoppage to fix the netting problem, the Hawks possibly able to chalk up an assist to the linesman who didn’t spot the problem during his pre match checks.
The ominous looming presence of the clock tower end goal brought about a hushed awe from the travelling supporters as they amassed behind it at the start of the second half. That which denied Hambley on the line two seasons ago, and Taylor twice with what looked like certain goals back in April, has become almost as legendary as the Ilkeston pie shop. But times change. The much loved Portacabin with its truck stop seating has now gone from the New Manor Ground (although as noted the food certainly hasn’t), and so has the spell that covered that top end goal. Nine minutes into the half Howe lofted a cross to Blake, whose shot was touched onto the bar by Nurse. The rebound crashed down in front of Haughton, and he side foot the ball past the helpless keeper.
Six minutes later deft footwork took Ferrett round substitute Ian Robinson, but Simon Coleman blocked Taylor’s resulting attempt. Ilkeston then proceeded to ruin Kerr’s clean sheet by sneaking a consolation goal in the 63rd minute. Chris Freestone connected with Hartfield’s free kick and tried to pop a header over the Hawks keeper. Aaron got fingertips to it, but enough only to push it onto the underside of the bar from where it rebounded onto the line and into the goal.
What hope for a revival the goal gave the home side was swiftly quashed when Haughton scored a second five minutes later. Hall took a free kick that was pushed back into the midfield, from where Hambley threaded a through ball out to Haughton on the left wing. Turning goal ward and from a narrow angle, he bent his shot round Nurse and into the far side of the net.
Freestone could have added a second from a Robinson free kick, but didn’t jump high enough to connect with it in the box, and Taylor rounded off with the fifth goal when Whitehead swung at and missed Middleton’s cross, leaving Super Jim to capitalise with an angled volley blasted low into the corner.
Four goals down with minutes to play, Hartfield concluded his debut for Ilkeston with a straight red card, having already received a yellow at the end of the first half. Dissent saw him march from the pitch, from where he unprofessionally continued his complaints after the whistle. Dean Blake almost added a sixth in injury time when Taylor knocked the ball back to him from the by line, the shot just wide of the post, and Taylor himself was denied access to a cross from Shaun Hale at the death when pushed in the Ilkeston box.
The victory puts the Hawks to 15th in the table, one place below next Saturday’s visitors Moor Green. The Moors also seem to be effecting a radical return to form after a poor season start, putting four unanswered goals past Halesowen yesterday. The match will doubtless be a tough and exacting encounter, kick off at Westleigh Park 3pm.
Early corner action
The New Manor Ground
Another corner ball
Warren Haughton oversees the running repairs
Gareth Hall takes a free kick
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