No thaw in relations between Havant and Eastleigh

By Wendy Gee -   

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Eastleigh's frozen pitch may have passed a late inspection, but there is no sign of a thaw in the frosty relations between the Spitfires and their bitter south coast rivals Havant.

Ever since the day Ian Baird controversially walked of Westleigh Park to become manager of Eastleigh in October 2007, there has been no love lost between the clubs.

And that was all too evident at the Silverlake Stadium on Saturday when ex-Saint Baird refused to shake hands with his opposite number Shaun Gale after the Hawks had edged a tetchy derby 1-0.

After a compelling first half awash with chances, the game became increasingly niggly after the break.

And it was after a spate of stoppages for injuries and lectures by Chatham referee Paul Kelly, that Havant made the breakthrough on 64 minutes.

Ex-Pompey reserve midfielder Steven Walker turned on the class to beat keeper Jason Matthews with an exquisite strike from the edge of the area that bounced in off the foot of the post.

Walker was promptly booked for his over-exuberant goal celebrations – a ‘crime’ that had repercussions four minutes later.

His ill-timed challenge on Shaun McAuley was punished with another yellow card, forcing Havant to see out the game with ten men.

Frustratingly for Eastleigh, Walker was followed down the tunnel by the Spitfires’ luckless targetman Jamie Brown, forced off with a knee injury just four minutes after being thrown into battle as a sub.

How the Spitfires could have done with the warrior-like Brown’s inspirational presence.

Baird groaned: “We looked like we had 11 grand pianos on our backs and just couldn’t get going.”

Despite his refusal to acknowledge Gale after the game, Baird admitted his side had been second best.

“Our creative players didn’t play particularly well, we didn’t defend particularly well – in fact we didn’t do anything particularly well,” he confessed.

“We weren’t ourselves and it was one of our poorest performances of late.

“But that doesn’t take away from Havant, who were probably the better side. Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin.”

Asked why that did not extend to offering a congratulatory hand to his former Hawks assistant and business partner Gale at the final whistle, Baird shrugged: “He’s not my cup of tea, let’s just leave it at that.

“I shook hands with (assistant manager) Steve Johnson and (fitness coach) Adi Aymes and told them they were the better side, but not with Mr Gale.”

And referring to Gale’s angry response to the snub, Baird added: “He could do with applying for an Equity Card!”

For Gale, it was a sweet victory, not to mention a badly needed one, with the under-achieving Hawks having won just two of their previous 14 league outings.

Asked about Baird blanking him at the final whistle, the Westleigh Park boss said: “At the end of the day it’s a game of football.

“If he wants to shake hands he can and if he doesn’t he doesn’t. It’s his choice. “I won’t repeat what he said to me.”

Hawks’ nippy striker Manny Williams clipped the bar with an early, thumping 25-yard blast.

Spitfires’ towering midfielder Peter Adeniyi then saw a tame effort headed off the line by Hawks skipper Ian Simpemba.

The second half was scrappy by comparison and, although Eastleigh had their chances, they seldom looked like breaching the ten-man Hawks.

Few in the 875 crowd would have argued with the outcome.

Eastleigh host second-to-bottom Weymouth tomorrow.

More from the Daily Echo: 
Directors add fuel to Eastleigh and Havant's Rivalry

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