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Monday, February 05, 2007

Havant & Waterlooville

Havant & Waterlooville 1 Fisher Athletic 3
Nationwide Conference South
West Leigh Park, Havant, Hampshire

Havant & WaterloovilleBy accident rather than by design this is my third Conference South game in a little over a month having taken in the Braintree Town (8th) v Bishop’s Stortford (4th) fixture in late December and Salisbury City (5th) v Cambridge City (11th) just over a fortnight ago. It’s also my second visit to West Leigh Park in just over a year having previously visited Skif territory at the beginning on the 2005-06 season for the Hawk’s one-nil home loss to Sutton United.

Having avoided the curse of the Manager of the Month award, awarded jointly to Kevin Hill of Hayes and the Hawk’s very own Ian Baird (three wins and a draw last month to move within touching distance of first place), Havant & Waterlooville beat Basingstoke by a goal-to-nil at home on Saturday to claim first place spot themselves. OK, a number of other Conference South sides were otherwise engaged in FA Trophy action at the weekend, but, as they say, it’s points on the board that count.

The Hawk’s were formed in 1998, following the merger of Havant Town and Waterlooville, the former having played at the 5,250 capacity West Leigh Park, since 1982. Winners of the Southern League Southern Section in their inaugural season (1998-99), their best finish in a five year spell in the Southern League Premier Division was third place in 2001-02, and at the end of the 2003-04 season they finished high enough (just) to make the cut for the Nationwide Conference South following a revamp of the structure of Non-League football in England.

As well as enjoying a decent run in the league Havant & Waterlooville also made it to the first round proper of the FA Cup at the back end of last year, taking on League opponents, in the shape of Millwall, for the first time ever. The “home” tie, played at nearby Fratton Park, saw the Lion’s run-out 2-1 winners. Speaking of which there was a presentation before tonight’s game by Millwall Chairman Stewart Till to his HWFC counterpart of a signed Lion’s shirt in recognition of the good time that was had by all at that game. Also interesting to note a number of Havant-Millwall affinity scarves in evidence on this cold February night.

First indications were that visitors Fisher Athletic (6th) would wilt under sustained Hawk’s pressure in the opening passage of play, and although they found themselves a goal down after quarter-of-an-hour – Jefferson Louis heading home from a precision Michael Warner cross – half-time surprisingly arrived without a further goal for the home side.

Fisher’s pacey forward line, Ledroy Griffiths in particular, had been kept in check by a well organised Hawk’s backline in the first forty-five minutes, but the offside trap was repeatedly broken in the second period, and when the visitor’s equalized following a retaken free-kick just after the hour the flood gates opened. Ten minutes later it was 1-2 as Ashley Carew lobbed the ball over Hawk’s ‘keeper from twenty-odd yards, and the rout was complete minutes later when Lenny Piper took advantage of poor marking at a corner to fire home from ten yards.

So, my record at West Leigh Park is now oh-and-two, and Hawk’s fan’s may be concerned to hear that I plan on being at their next Monday night fixture on February 19th. By the way, there was a large yellow flag with a white cross bearing the initials HWFC and legend “Let’s go 4 a little walk” hung behind one goal. I would be interested to hear what that’s all about.

Match Number: 1353

posted by chevblue at 10:06 pm






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