Match Data 2004/2005
Dean Blake (Ford, 63)
Gavin Holligan (Town, 30)
Jamie Campbell (Howe, 63)
Holdsworth (pen, 87)
Kandol (pen, 51)
Shane Thompson (Goodfellow, 90)
John Buffong (Martin, 73)
Havant and Waterlooville secured a confidence boosting 3-1 win at a blowy Ship Lane this afternoon, maintaining a first half lead through a turbulent second period that saw the Hawks finish the match with ten men. Dave Town and Dean Holdsworth put the visitors two up at the break, but a questionable penalty and Gareth Howells’s even more debatable dismissal put the hosts back in the game until Holdsworth secured the win with a spot kick himself.
No one could accuse Dave Leworthy of lacking creativity as he shuffled his Hawks deck yet again today, this time coming up with a royal flush that beat last week’s single sleeve worn heart hands down. 3-4-3 was the order of the day, with Jamie Campbell, Neil Sharp and Tom Jordan sat behind a midfield line of Jason Chewins, Geoff Pitcher, Neil Champion and Dean Blake. It wasn’t only Pitcher that the Hawks welcomed back from injury though, Gavin Holligan made a surprise reappearance at the front with Dean Holdsworth and James Taylor.
The Hawks thankfully took little time in displaying their return to form, with good early pressure keeping Thurrock pinned well back. With seven minutes on the clock Blake tricked his way out onto the right wing and lofted a great ball back that Holdsworth saw pushed over the bar. Gusting wind caused accuracy problems for both sides in the first half, but several Hawks corners kept matters focused around the home area.
Holligan, initially doubtful for today’s game, threw himself back into his attacking role with no sign of the hamstring tear that has kept him off the pitch since August. Twenty minutes in he came desperately close to putting the Hawks in front when he broke past John Purdie in the Thurrock back line and from close range hammered the ball into the foot of the post.
It wasn’t until the 25th minute that the hosts got sight of the Hawks goal, and when their first chance came it took a barrelling solo run from Lee Hodges to get close enough for a lob that dipped over keeper and bar. Minutes later though Hodges was on target when he tried to make the most of a deflected corner from David Collis.
The Hawks meanwhile were truly showing a return to form, sadly hampered on the half hour when Holligan was forced to retire after landing awkwardly with what looked like a back injury rather than a relapse of his hamstring problem. Town replaced him and shortly after skipped the ball through to Holdsworth for a surefooted pass on to Taylor that Purdie just managed to intercept. Further midfield pinball and a defensive mistake from Jimmy McFarlane then allowed Town to charge through and pick up a loose ball that he drove bodily past keeper Billy McMahon.
Five minutes later Town was fouled and Holdsworth put the Hawks two up when he struck a 20 yard free kick that curved magically around the Thurrock wall and bent back inside the near post. The hosts though were lucky to escape into the break at that when Town grasped John Buffong’s poor clearance minutes later and sent it back across the box to where Taylor’s delicate effort skimmed the bar.
Having dominated the first half the Hawks came close to losing their respectable lead with an incident packed second half. Six minutes in McFarlane turned away a Chewins free kick, and Buffong raced away with only Blake in tow. Dean’s jostling turned to shirt tugging as Buffong surged ahead of him and into the Hawks half, but bizarrely it wasn’t until the pair entered the Hawks’ box that the linesman’s flag went up and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Tresor Kandol stepped up and sent Howells the wrong way.
The goal brought Thurrock into the game, who tried several times in the following minutes to gain another. On the hour McFarlane came close, but couldn’t quite get a head to Collis’s free kick at the back post.
In the 67th minute the hosts gained further impetus to look for an equaliser when further strange circumstances reduced the Hawks to ten men. Buffong ham fistedly collided with Howells in the keeper’s six yard box, leading to a Hawks free kick. But when standing up Howells appeared to lose his balance and backed into Buffong, falling over the still prone striker. The linesman flagged, called the referee over, and seconds later Howells was dismissed with a straight red card for stamping on Buffong. Having used all three substitutes, Leworthy opted to nominate Taylor for the number one shirt, and Super Jim played what eventually turned out to be a superb half an hour in goal.
Holdsworth was muscled off the ball and pushed over in the Thurrock box without reciprocation of the penalty, before Taylor’s first save pushed a dangerous shot from Hodges over the bar.
Thurrock continued to up their pace as the game wound down, but woeful finishing from Hodges and Kandol saw most chances blaze well wide of the goal. Ironically it was with ten men that the Hawks played some of their best passing football; Champion and Bobby Howe tying the midfield in knots, but it took another spot kick to settle the game. Holdsworth was upended again as he dashed once more into the box, and despite having to re-take his penalty for encroachment from behind him, he found the net both times.
Seven minutes of injury time allowed further chances for the hosts, but superb saves from Taylor denied substitute Simon Martin twice before the whistle.