Match Data 2005/2006
Sutton United 1
Carl Wilson-Denis (Harrison, 83)
Despite dominating for long periods at a wet Gander Green Lane this afternoon, the Hawks could only manage a 1-1 draw against mid-table Sutton United. Rocky Baptiste’s tremendous right foot drive put the visitors into a buoyant fifth minute lead, but the hosts levelled in the 27th when Peter Fear smashed a volley past Gareth Howells as the Hawks failed to deal with a corner.
Ian Baird made no changes to the side that beat Weymouth last week, putting midfielder Anton Robinson, a new 19 year old loan signing from Exeter City, on the bench.
In a dismal misty rain it took the Hawks no time to assert themselves, a flurry of early activity leading to Darren Annon releasing Baptiste on the right wing in the fifth minute. Baptiste raced forward into the box through several defenders and released a tremendous drive that flew across keeper Phil Wilson to go in at the back post.
In the wake of the goal Sutton tightened their defence and twenty minutes of midfield pinball followed, with neither side managing to get further forward than the edge of the opposing penalty area. The Hawks looked surprisingly ordinary as they tried to get to grips with the increasingly slippery surface.
The hosts eventually earned a corner in the 27th minute, which popped into the box to be hacked back and forth until Baptiste’s sliced effort fell straight to ex-Hawk Fear, who volleyed brilliantly from the edge of the box leaving an unsighted Howells rooted to the spot.
Seconds later Fear picked up a yellow card for cutting down Guy Lopez DaCruz, helping to cancel out the midfield imbalance suffered after Lopez had gained a card himself several minutes before.
Matt Gray (Sutton) and Steve Douglas combined well in a rare organised attack for the hosts, leaving an almost surprised Douglas on the edge of the box with a ball he passed into nothing rather than trying a shot. Fear followed with a carbon copy of his previous smashed volley off a long Sutton throw, but his second attempt deflected away off bodies in the box. Douglas did manage to get a shot off late in the half, again from a threatening long throw he sent a low drive bouncing past the far post.
Sutton United 1
Havant and Waterlooville 1
The uneventful first half drifted into an equally dull second, but the Hawks did enough in defence to keep Sutton well away from goal for lengthy periods. The Hawks did perhaps dominate much of the half, but equally rarely looked like scoring, not helped by every 50/50 decision going the way of the hosts.
Saunders curled a great ball in front of Baptiste as the striker burst into the home box, but Wilson raced forward to save well at his feet. Two corners ensued in the following minutes, both put in by Jamie Collins and fired wide by Shea Saunders and Tony Taggart respectively.
Douglas could have put the hosts ahead just past the hour when he struggled the ball past Howells on the edge of the Hawks area, only to blast his shot at an open goal wide of the post.
Carl Wilson-Denis miss kicked another Saunders cross as the Hawks finally started to get into gear inside the last ten minutes of the game. Having coasted through much of the half, the side upped their pace to find chance after chance as the game headed toward an unnecessary five minutes of injury time.
Collins took the first of several further corners, setting aside earlier failed short attempts in favour of longer balls. The first eluded everyone in the box, missing substitute Byron Harrison’s attempted header by inches at the back post. Harrison missed again moments later as Taggart’s cross curled in front of him, coming to Baptiste who fired hard into the side netting from a narrow angle.
Some comical defending from the otherwise rock solid Annon and Neil Sharp almost handed Sutton an own goal, needing Howells to race along his line to grab hold of a loose ball, before the Hawks saw their closest chance of the half stopped with a desperate save. Collins tried from the edge of the six yard box, sending Wilson one way before a clipped deflection sent the ball the other, needing the keeper to dramatically palm the ball round the post one handed as he fell away from it.
Collins sent in two more corners that came to nothing, before a break away run allowed Gray to send a thunderous shot from midfield at Howells, who managed to block the ball and recover it virtually on the whistle.
Speaking after the game on Radio Solent, Hawks boss Baird expressed his frustration with the game, “When you score after five minutes you expect to go on and win, but we were naďve. The pitch was shocking for both sides, but they adapted more than we did. We continued to try and play fancy football on an impossible pitch.
“Our level of expectancy has gone up this season so it is a disappointing result, but last season to get a point at Sutton on a cold wet pitch in January I’d have been happy. We just couldn’t get our passing going and couldn’t adjust. A mistake was going to win the game but our set pieces were shocking.”
Pressed on his outlook for the remainder of the season, he added, “We’ve got 17 difficult games to go and at the moment we’re right in the middle of winter with Hayes away next week. From experience I know their pitch isn’t the best either so we have to go and not get beaten.”
Asked about the league title now being a three horse race between St Albans, Weymouth and the Hawks, he said, “There are nine teams around us and any one could go on a winning run and get into the playoffs. We’ve got pretty much a depleted squad with Neil Champion, Neil Davis, Ludovic Quisten, Colin Matthews and Matt Gray all out with mid to long-term injuries, Brett Poate injured and Jamie Collins suspended. We haven’t got any money to bring players in, I’ll put out a message to everyone out there, if anybody wants to come and sponsor a player then please come down to Havant because we desperately need one.”