All Square - Spitfires 1-1 Hawks


Blue Square South

Match report by Jamie Montigue, 
Photos kindly provided by Dave Haines

‘As big as it comes in Non League football’. That was the thoughts of Eastleigh’s co-assistant manager Paul Doswell ahead of this dramatic derby between two Hampshire rivals, the Spitfires and the Hawks, between whom there is certainly no love lost with all that has gone on before.

Ian Baird, on his birthday, took on his old charges Havant and Waterlooville, a side that the Spitfires have failed to win against in eight attempts. He handed a debut to new signing, 28-year-old Kevin James following his release from Blue Square Premier side Crawley Town and completing his move to the Silverlake Stadium just ahead of the March transfer deadline yesterday. David Hughes was rested and settled for a place on the bench, whilst Anthony Riviere came back from a knock he sustained in the 2-1 win over Newport a little over a week ago to replace the injured Andy Harris.

There were precious few chances in the opening stages as both sides began the encounter at a ferocious pace as can be expected with so much at stake in this contest, not least fighting out for a play-off place, but both sides seemed to cancel each other out early on.

A massive 1,255 piled into the ground to watch this one, and it was the excellent Eastleigh faithful, in particular those behind the goal, whose vocal support was second to none from start to finish setting a resembling atmosphere to the magnitude of the encounter and the teams involved.
Shaun Gale’s Havant provided the first scare as Eastleigh’s captain Anthony Riviere played a short back pass to his goalkeeper Jason Matthews. Luke Nightingale, who recently signed a two-year deal with the Hawks from Bognor Regis Town so nearly caught out the former Weymouth stopper applying good pressure.

A quarter of an hour played, Matt Hann sent a well placed cross in to the area looking for Andy Forbes, though Kevin Scriven claimed well to cut out the danger.

Two minutes later Paul Sales played the ball to Peter Adeniyi who in turn helped it on into the path of Forbes who took it on the volley firing just wide, the ball flying across goal like an arrow.

The visitors best opportunity of the half saw Craig Watkins strike the ball sweetly on the volley from the edge of the penalty area drawing a fantastic save out of Jason Matthews, who had to be at full stretch to keep it out.

A challenge from Paul Sales saw a few emotions spill over and produce the first real fireworks of an otherwise fair game up to this point. The Havant full back, Brett Poate made the most of Sales’ sliding challenge influencing the referee’s decision, which eventually (when the handbags had been put away!) resulted in a yellow card for Sales despite a fair attempt to play the ball and minimal contact on the player.

It didn’t take long for Sales to get his comeuppance as Neil Sharp went straight through the striker moments later, the Havant defender also being shown a yellow card.

Eastleigh began to take charge from 30 minutes onwards, beginning with a Kevin James cross from the right that saw a close-ranged shot from Forbes, roll safely through to Scriven.

Adeniyi was brought down 25 yards from goal but the referee played the advantage as Piper shot straight at Forbes.

Ten minutes before the break, Eastleigh seemingly had a very good shout for a penalty as towering centre half Ashley Vickers was shoved to the ground. Play continued, the referee not interested in the incident, with Andy Forbes having an effort deflected behind.

The hosts were on top at this point with lots of pressure. Matt Hann and Karl Murray both had shots well charged down as the Hawks defended well in numbers determined not to crack and concede a goal just before the break.

Riviere forced a corner in the 37th minute where Hann’s delivery was pushed behind by Scriven ahead of Byles.

At the opposite end, an excellent delivery from a corner on the far side by Poate forced a fine fingertip save from Matthews who turned the ball behind expertly.

Just a minute before the break Havant’s Rocky Baptiste was provided the best opportunity of the evening by a country mile but could not take it and was left kicking himself. Nightingale left the ball for Baptiste who had lots of time to just pick his spot but drilled well wide of goal and should have done an awful lot better for a player of his calibre.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Havant and Waterlooville

Shortly after the break, a pinpoint ball down the line from Luke Byles found Forbes on the right whose excellent ball in was met by a Hann header that was blocked initially. It came back out to Hann who ran at his marker before going down somewhat easily under a challenge from Wilkinson and in my opinion looking for the penalty.

Six minutes in, Chris Piper’s floated cross was precise and measured to find Kevin James in front of goal with a glorious chance to test Scriven with a free header. The debutant however didn’t connect as well as he would have liked. Unlucky for Eastleigh, a let off for Havant.

The visitors first chance of the half came from a Jay Smith pull back from the near touchline. Craig Watkins arrived at the near post but was under pressure and as a result unable to turn the ball home thanks to an important challenge from former Hawk Luke Byles.

Barely ten minutes of the second half up, Havant had an even better opportunity. Luke Nightingale was sent clear of the last defender, clean through down the middle but his floated chip was somewhat rushed and flew harmlessly over the cross bar with Matthews glued to his goalline.

Byles was again at the thick of it in the heart of the Eastleigh defence to charge down Jamie Collins’ shot from 18 yards, Watkins with the ball across as Havant forced a corner from which nothing materialised.

On the hour, Warren McBean replaced Matt Hann, forcing Andy Forbes to switch to the left of midfield.

Eastleigh suddenly were on the up once more with a flurry of chances. Paul Sales drew the corner playing the ball off the defender; Kevin James provided the delivery from which Vickers’ looping header left Scriven with a simple catch.

A poor, low and quickly taken drop kick from Scriven came back off the feet of one of his team-mates in a yellow shirt just 20 yards ahead of him. His defence caught unawares still trudging forward, the ball fell kindly for Forbes who looked to take full advantage but his lofted effort, looking to send the ball back over the head of the goalkeeper, came narrowly wide and may have even taken an all important touch from Gary Elphick who recovered from Scriven’s error to apply timely pressure.

Forbes only a minute later looked to have been obstructed in the penalty area having got the better of one marker, before being body-checked. Bewilderingly the referee penalised the Eastleigh striker awarding the foul in Havant’s favour when it could so easily have been given as a penalty kick.

Matthews was more than equal to a low free kick from Poate with the game entering it’s final third. The Eastleigh goalkeeper found Sales route one style, with a long kick. Sales combined with Adeniyi to good effect getting the ball back and finding himself one on one with Scriven only to shoot weakly and too close to the keeper with his left foot. A glorious opportunity.

Then, in the 76th minute the deadlock was broken. Gavin McCallum who had not long come off the bench, made an immediate impact with the perfect cross from the left hand side to find ROCKY BAPTISTE in the centre. Baptiste made no mistake from close range with a powerful header leaving Matthews no chance, though Eastleigh may have had a case in suggesting suspicions of offside.

Havant were sent into ruptures having taken the lead, but Eastleigh deservedly came back into the game showing good character to force a dramatic equaliser.

Seven minutes from time, a direct ball into the box was poked to the right by Kevin James for PAUL SALES to pick out the top corner with a crisp drive much to the delight of the Eastleigh faithful, who simply erupted.

Baird’s men might have won it and it looked like they had from the unlikely source of Ashley Vickers in the 86th minute. The no-nonsense defender brought the ball down showing great touch, excellent composure and the technique of an international striker to volley towards goal. Heading for the top corner, the fine effort came so agonisingly close and deserved to be the winning goal but it was not to be as it ended all square.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 1-1 Havant and Waterlooville


Popular posts from this blog

Evans jumps on board

Penalty heartbreak for Eastleigh in play-offs