Match Data 2002/2003
Havant & Waterlooville 1
Wes Chalmers (Ford, 84)
Carruthers (Hafner, 24)
Spiller (James, 65)
Tuesday night saw the last remaining unknown quantity of the 2002/03 campaign arrive at Westleigh Park. The start of the season is a long time gone now, but back last August many again asked the question that Kettering answered with their final day victory in May. Would the relegated new arrivals bounce back to the top flight of the Non League at the first attempt?
Early indications were that they would, one loss in their first eight games gave them a fine opening, but into the new year just one win over a similar length run put paid to any realistic promotion ambitions towards the end of March. The side appear already to be steeling themselves for a further season in the Southern League with a gentle end to this term, at least that was the impression the side gave with an unexpectedly relaxed performance at Westleigh Park.
The game was always going to be an interesting proposition for the Hawks, coming between the two legs of arguably the most important game the team has ever played. Joint managers Mick Jenkins and Liam Daish did take the opportunity to rest some players, but not as many as anticipated. Aaron Kerr, Christian Hanson and Shaun Gale were absent, as was Brett Poate as he continues his trials with league clubs. In their place Steve May stood in goal, and the defence welcomed back youth team centre back Dan Turner, along with reserve team regular Wes Chalmers. At the front Paul Wood made a welcome return, as did Warren Haughton to partner James Taylor.
It was Haughton who saw the first chance of the game, his shot in the ninth minute escaping visiting keeper Paul Hyde to roll free toward the far post before it was hooked away. Chris Ferrett then almost handed Dover an early lead when he got a little too much power behind a header back to May in goal that startled the Hawks keeper but went wide of the goal.
Making amends moments later, Ferrett sent in a scything free kick that cut through to Hyde, and Taylor, who almost barrelled both ball and keeper into the net. After initial apprehensions, the Hawks were finding that their visitors were affording them far more space than expected from a top six side. Taylor head down a cross from Haughton in the 19th minute that caught out recipient Dean Blake, who rather than seeing Taylorís ball fly into the net found it at his feet. His hurried shot flew over the bar. Minutes later a second attempt from Blake from a cross by Chalmers was on target, but Hyde got behind it.
On the half hour the constantly physical Danny Chapman was lucky to get away with a yellow card when he mowed down Taylor, and made himself the subject of continual disenchanted cries from the stand when seeming to kick him in the process. Soon after, Dover took a shock lead when a precise free kick dropped inches out of Mayís reach and was turned home through the narrowest of gaps at the far post by Tommy Tyne. Steve Norman came close to adding a second in the 36th minute, but an astonishing diving save from May kept the ball out of the net.
The half ended in frustration for the Hawks, who had pinned Dover back for long periods, and the second half continued in the same vein. Tyne however did see a glimmer of a chance when he escaped from a debatably offside position ten minutes in, but with only May to beat he put his shot into the side netting.
Miss kicks and stumbles ruined the chances the Hawks did carve out, Haughton and Blake both failing to strike from dangerous positions, but Taylor came close on the hour when he flicked a Ferrett corner onto the crossbar. Haughton put through a precise ball to Taylor afterwards, but it was snatched away from him by Kenny Dyer, and cries of handball erupted from behind the goal over incidents in the Dover area at five minute intervals.
It was very much all the Hawks into the final stages of the game, and the thoroughly deserved equaliser came in the 76th minute when Dan Turner bagged his first senior team goal with a close range blast high into the net. Alec Massonís knock down set him up from Ferrettís corner. With minutes to go Jamie Day saw a shot stopped ably by May, before Hyde missed a punch at the other end and breathed a heavy sigh of relief when Blakeís chip rolled wide of the post.