Fenelon late winner a sickening blow for Baird on Westleigh Park return


Blue Square South

By Jamie Montigue

Today’s local derby, the start of a congested fixture schedule over the Christmas season, saw Eastleigh falter in search of securing their first ever win against the Hawks.

Ian Baird on his return to Westleigh Park for the first time since leaving to take charge of Eastleigh in October, made three changes to his starting eleven from the side who pipped Bognor Regis Town to a place in the 2nd Round of the FA Trophy.

James Pullen was fit enough to make a comeback following an ankle operation that had kept the goalkeeper out for a month. Former Hawk, Luke Byles replaced Karim El-Salahi and Damian Scannell, amid his pending move to the football league with Southend United, shook off a knee injury to take the place of Ashan Holgate in attack.

In the opening seconds of the game, Eastleigh may well have found the dream start they were looking for. Matt Hann, latching on to a pass from Andy Forbes smashed the ball towards goal with a sidefoot effort from 18 yards only to be denied by a splendid reaction save from Kevin Scriven.

A deep free kick from Andy Harris moments later saw Jamie Brown’s sliced shot just wide of the target as the Spitfires took to the lively atmosphere around the ground, continuing their bright start.

Matt Hann forced an early corner following good play down the middle, beating his man with a skilful flick over the top before cleverly playing the ball off the defender.

Andy Harris fed a great ball through for Scannell in the tenth minute as the visitors pressed further. Damian got in behind the defence with a timely run but was denied by the alert goalkeeping of Scriven who raced off his line to intervene.

Two minutes later, Havant attacked with promise for the first time in the game. Gary Hart on his debut for the Hawks following his month’s loan from Brighton, combined to good effect with strike partner Rocky Baptiste who in turn found FA Cup goalscoring hero, Tony Taggart in space on the left. The end product was not so good however with Taggart screwing his effort comfortably wide of Pullen’s left upright.

Charlie Henry, another recent addition to Shaun Gale’s troops, pulled up with an injury with just nineteen minutes played and was unable to continue. Alfie Potter replaced Henry and immediately posed a real threat to liven things up for the hosts.

Eastleigh left back Adam Everitt was caught in possession by the talented winger, Potter who had been on the pitch a matter of seconds. James Pullen was called into action instantly to save low down to deny Potter whose quick footwork just outside the penalty area, allowed the youngster to get a shot away.

An Anthony Riviere cross was headed behind by Gary Elphick at the opposite end, the centre back also making his debut having signed this week from fellow Blue Square South side St. Albans.

Kevin Scriven looked vulnerable from the threat of Adam Everitt’s in-swinging corner kick, and pushed the ball on to his own cross bar to concede a further corner.

Again Everitt put in a testing delivery and again Scriven palmed behind for a third successive Eastleigh set piece.

It seemed the pressure was creeping up on Havant as Eastleigh immediately had a clear-cut, golden chance to take the lead. Andy Forbes picked up on the loose ball in a dangerous position to take advantage of a slip from Elphick, before playing a wonderful pass through to Scannell.

Rounding the keeper effortlessly, it seemed certain Damian would find the net but it went horribly wrong having done the hard work as the man who agreed a deal with Coca Cola League One side Southend United earlier this week, fired the wrong side of goal.

On the back of this let off, Havant took renewed optimism to their play. Jamie Collins, the Havant skipper had his cross half-cleared by Luke Byles’ header which found it’s way out to Potter who struck it first time with a powerful volley, seemingly destined for goal. Byles, though he didn’t know much about it, was there to stop that outcome as the venomous shot was struck straight at the Eastleigh defender.

Neil Sharp headed clean over the cross bar on 33 minutes from a Brett Poate free kick, before Pullen broke up a promising move a minute later.

Tony Taggart worked the ball nicely to carve the Spitfires defence in two in search of Potter who had made a late run to the back post where he had the ball swept from his feet by the Eastleigh stopper.

Havant and Waterlooville kept up their momentum with Jamie Collins curling a left-footed effort an inch or two wide of the post from the far side.

Two-time Blue Square South golden boot winner Rocky Baptiste, might have done better with time and space to pick his spot, five minutes before the break. Completely unmarked, Baptiste decided to hit it first time and as a result failed to trouble Pullen where a touch might just have settled him before pulling the trigger.

Warren Goodhind shrugged Baptiste off the ball just a minute later with the home fans feeling they had a valid shout for a penalty kick. Meanwhile Damian Scannell broke down the right to torment Brett Poate and eventually delivered from the byline though the cross was too deep for Hann.

In the final minute of the half, both sides had chances to break the deadlock ahead of the interval. Firstly, an out of sorts Baptiste who looked to be extremely low on confidence squandered an opening from point blank range from Hart’s headed flick on.

A long ball from Harris saw Andy Forbes give chase down the right to put pressure on Poate. The Havant left back had little option but to head behind and from the corner kick Luke Byles’ header was just a whisker away.

HALF TIME: Havant and Waterlooville 0-0 Eastleigh

Chamal Fenelon took to the field to replace Tony Taggart two minutes into the half, a switch that ultimately found the match winner.

The first scalp went to Havant with Baptiste’s strong run down the left ending with a shot that blazed high above goal from 25 yards.

On the hour mark Eastleigh were literally queuing up at the far post but could not find a way through to take advantage from a corner that Riviere did well to win. Damian Scannell’s shot ricocheted onto the post before Peter Adeniyi got his feet in a tangle just two yards out, leading to a goalmouth scramble. The Hawks’ could then clear their lines.

Matt Hann struck a shot against Elphick from the edge of the area not long after, before Scannell’s positive run and shot saw the ball just past the post with Eastleigh threatening.

Following Eastleigh’s first substitution of the game, David Hughes on for Peter Adeniyi, Chamal Fenelon came close with a shot that crept agonisingly wide of goal with just Pullen to beat.

Eastleigh resumed their attacking stance momentarily with Jamie Brown’s backward header from an Andy Harris free kick seeing Neil Sharp take no risk in dealing with the dilemma. Sharp flicked the ball past his own goalkeeper, who perhaps should have come for the ball anyway, to concede a corner kick.

With a little over fifteen minute’s to play, it was at this point Havant who enjoyed a good spell and crucially at just the right time.

Pullen watched a low drive wide by Baptiste at his near post in the 72nd minute.

Two minutes later Andy Harris was booked for a late challenge. The Spitfires rattled, the Havant support behind the goal were screaming for a penalty when another low shot from Baptiste was stopped by both Everitt and Byles. Both defenders had slid in to block the shot, and that is where there were questions of handball - as it bounced off Byles on to Everitt.

Eleven minutes from time, Baptiste, looking a completely different player to the one on display in the first half, got the better of Andy Harris cutting inside from the left had his strike well held by Pullen.

A goal was coming, it could be sensed and unfortunately for Eastleigh it was looking like Havant would get it.

Gary Hart’s centre found Potter at the back post a minute later, the Havant midfielder’s header producing a fine stop out of Pullen. Baptiste was on hand for the rebound and should have done better.

With eight minutes remaining, Fenelon had a snapshot cleared off the line by Everitt whilst Andy Forbes at the opposite end worked a good opening on the right only to find there was no red shirt to be seen on the end of his excellent cross.

Then came the sickening blow for Ian Baird on his return to Havant. It didn’t look as if there was much on when a hopeful ball from defence saw Everitt underneath the clearance. A horrid touch from the former Cambridge City full back was the only invitation Gary Hart needed to take advantage.

Hart’s early, inch-perfect cross found CHAMAL FENELON in the middle. The substitute connected well with the header and, despite Pullen’s best efforts to pluck it away, the ball trickled over the line to earn Havant and Waterlooville all three points.

Straight from the kick off Forbes combined with Ashan Holgate, whose shot deflected through harmlessly to Scriven.

Deep into injury time there was still time for Eastleigh to rescue a share of the spoils. Andy Forbes found Damian Scannell to his right, who weaved past two before teeing up Jamie Brown in acres of space on the far side. Brown could not have wished for a better opportunity, but failed to hit the target.

Eastleigh will have to wait until February before they get the chance to reverse this scoreline and their fortunes against their local rivals, at the Silverlake Stadium. For now, the Basingstoke game on Boxing Day will be crucial and could give us Spitfires fans’ a pleasing Christmas present should we bounce back with a win.

FULL TIME: Havant and Waterlooville 1-0 Eastleigh


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