Match Data 2005/2006
Havant & Waterlooville 1
Neil Champion (Wilson-Denis, 46)
Richard Pacquette (Watkins, 59)
OG (Champion) (24)
Simon Parker (Goddard, 70)
Havant and Waterlooville’s grip on the final playoff spot loosened further at Westleigh Park this afternoon where a bizarre series of events saw the side go down 2-1 to mid-table Thurrock. The defeat may have been the first in eight games for the Hawks, but with only seven points gained from their last six matches the side’s playoff spot now hangs in the balance.
The visitors went ahead 24 minutes in when Neil Champion turned Simon Parker’s cross into his own net, notching the Hawks’ second own goal in three games, but the side fell further behind in controversial circumstances ten minutes after the break. Home keeper Colin Matthews caught Barry Moore’s corner ball clearly, only for it to be knocked from his hands and slammed home by Garry Cross. Carl Wilson-Denis’s shot in off the post gave the hosts hope 22 minutes from the end, but not enough to keep the side’s four point cushion inside the all important playoff bracket.
Neil Champion replaced Darren Annon in the only change made to the side that recorded a draw with Carshalton in the week.
In the opening minutes Tony Taggart burst past Mark Janney, continuing his recently found role as an attacking midfielder, and dragged the ball back across the face of goal and wide. Seconds later he was through again, forcing a diving save from Glenn Knight that the Thurrock keeper spilled. Poate’s short corner was popped into the box and Tom Jordan’s towering leap beat Knight for a header that dropped down over the bar.
Mark Goodfellow’s long ball from the back found Kris Lee between Neil Sharp and Luke Byles, but the forward couldn’t control his hurried shot. Lee’s run up the wing that followed would have been dangerous had Sharp not cut short his cross bound for Janney, totally unmarked at the back post.
Concerns continued as Thurrock pushed forward. Janney’s cross from deep on the right was badly dealt with, and Rocky Baptiste was the one who got back in time for a critical tackle that stopped a close range shot.
18 minutes in Richard Pacquette picked up the first card of the game for a late tackle on Goodfellow as the referee’s insistence on halting the game at any possible opportunity began to come to the fore.
Baptiste’s through ball after a quick throw put Taggart onto a streaking run into the box for a shot blocked by Thurrock’s defence. Champion then launched a long throw to an unmarked Fitzroy Simpson, who had time to set up Pacquette for an angled shot that deflected and bounced just wide. Poate’s following corner then sailed into the box for Jordan to head wide.
24 minutes in disaster struck for the hosts when the fast breaking Janney escaped up the wing with a ball from Simon Parker and Champion, sliding in to clear it, succeeded only in slamming it home at Matthews near post.
The Hawks charged to the other end and Taggart went down under what looked like a valid penalty claim as he shot. Thurrock cleared the ball to the midfield, where it was Sharp’s turn to be sent flying by a rash challenge, but it was Poate who picked up the second yellow card of the game for protesting the referee’s ability to turn a blind eye to obvious offences.
The hosts were showing no difficulty in getting the ball into the box, but their visitors were proving adept at packing it quickly to make shooting difficult.
Nine minutes from the break the Hawks were exceptionally lucky when Jordan’s challenge on Garry Cross upended the winger yards inside the box. It was Thurrock’s turn to be enraged by the man in black’s decisions when he awarded a free kick a yard outside the area, although he yellow carded Jordan for good measure. Barry Moore’s effort from the dead ball was then quickly cleared.
Despite the wet conditions making the Westleigh Park surface slippery, the referee continued to halt matters to enforce his authority, and Cross picked up Thurrock’s first card for a challenge on Taggart. Moore’s high ball then fell nicely for Sam Sloma, who raced onto it to power in a low shot that Matthews dived well to save.
Poate waited too long to shoot having controlled a long ball and lost possession, however Taggart latched onto the clearance for a first time shot that Knight caught in mid air.
Havant and Waterlooville 0
At half time the Hawks swapped Champion for Carl Wilson-Denis, and as in recent matches made a formation switch to 3-4-3 that added shooting power to the front.
Regardless, Moore’s early shot for the visitors signalled their intent to keep pushing, as did Parker’s chance attempt not long after that curled for the back post, forcing a hasty one handed reflex save from Matthews.
Refereeing inconsistencies marred the encounter again nine minutes into the half when the Hawks were struck a killer blow in bizarre circumstances. Matthews lost possession of Moore’s corner ball when knocked into by attackers, despite having claimed it with two hands, and Cross wasted no time in slamming it home with the Hawks keeper stood incredulous at the decision to allow the goal to stand.
Byles then picked up another card in the aftermath as the Hawks’ defending became more hurried. Sloma’s free kick went wide.
Decisions continued to astound supporters of both sides. The Hawks were denied a corner after a Saunders cross was deflected out over the bar by a defender, but finally the luck went the way of the hosts when 68 minutes in, an obvious handball by Simpson was overlooked as the ex-Pompey pro controlled the ball for a cross to Saunders on the right. The winger sent it back in quickly, and amid the melee Wilson-Denis snatched the chance for a shot that went in off the post.
The hosts picked up a little after the goal, who attacked again quickly leading to an excellent save from Knight that cut out a threatening cross from Wilson-Denis.
At the other end Simpson was quick to hack away a Sloma cross and Matthews saved well at point blank range when Lee slipped through the defence.
Frustrations boiled over and Sharp was carded for protesting when the referee failed to let the Hawks play an obvious advantage after Baptiste was body checked, hauling the game back for a free kick from Simpson that was dealt with easily.
Goodfellow then tripped substitute Craig Watkins, leaving Poate to curl a free kick in that Moore head away. Poate returned the corner to the box but amid the muddy fracas Knight claimed the ball.
As the game continued to take on farcical qualities, Thurrock boss Colin McBride was sent from his dugout to the stand, wasting more time as the clock wound down.
Deep into injury time Poate’s final free kick floated through the box, dropping past Sharp and going out on the whistle.