Att : 475
HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE – 0
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Cornwall 79]
Right, whose daft idea was it to have the first away game of the season on a Monday?
Still, it all worked out in the end. With a booze & nosh up at Chez Millsy on the Sunday after Chalmers, Myself, Greek & Windy had clashed in a football match that morning, taking the day off seemed the most sensible idea.
So, it’s after a nice lie in that I meet up with Windy at Sutton station just before 1. Here we spot TR in his cab and stop for a quick chat to check on any possible absentees. Sadly, he declines the job of taking us to Havant himself.
Ho hum, train it is then…..
A surprisingly trouble free journey down (surprising as it mainly involved South West trains) dumps us at Portsmouth harbour around three. Oh look, a pub!
A beer and some taunts via SMS to Greek later, we walk round the harbour to the ‘Still & West’ pub. Here we relax with a few beers and watch the boats go by.
Sadly, before too long, it’s time to mosey on back to the station & return to Havant for the football. Chalmers calls as we pull out of Pompey Harbour station to inform us he’s just arrived at the ground. 15 minutes later, we’re joining the them in a bar dominated by choc n amber, except for 3 home players sat watching the cricket.
Sadly the test ends in a draw and our attention can turn fully to the proper stuff….
The side that runs out is much the same as saturday. The only change being Richard Blackwell on the bench instead of Castledine.
Havant lost narrowly to Weymouth on the opening day and with this being their first home game, will be looking to impress. The opening exchanges are fairly even although Gray manages to talk himself into a booking within the first couple of minutes.
The first real opening arrives after 11 mins. A good cross in from the right being dealt with by Gonsalves at the far post, heading away for a corner kick. On 16 minutes, we win a corner of our own, which Gray puts in from the left. It’s allowed to carry towards the far post, where a diving Scarborough meets it, but is unable to direct it anywhere other than wide of the target.
Our hosts have clearly not changed their style of play from last season and are as expected, looking very tidy indeed at moving the ball about. One example comes on abotu 21 minutes when they hit us very quickly on the break following a free-kick around their box.
The result is a deep cross from the right that picks out a white shirt beyond the far post. He tries a first time volley, but thunders his effort low across the goalmouth.
Already the hosts have looked increasingly in charge of proceedings, but from here on in, basically dominate the half, pressing our midfield and forcing them to play early balls forward that their defence can sweep up from our hard pressed forwards.
Although they dominate, Havant only really manage one serious effort on goal despite plenty of action in our half. Another sweeping move shifts the play right to left again and finds a man in space. But his vicious 18 yard angled drive finds Emberson’s midriff.
We manage to make a bit more progress towards the end of the first half, but create little. The only other real moments of note being 3 rapid yellow cards shown. The first for a really rather naughty looking challenge on Gonsalves, the next a laughable one for Akuamouah for a ‘foul’ and the third for a defender clumisly taking down Eddie himself shortly after.
Having spent most of the half under the cosh, we’re fairly happy to go in level and amble round to the other end. Our stroll is interrupted firstly by ex-striker Jon Nurse.
Nice to see you Jon, but fuck me you must be bored to come all the way down here on a monday night!!!
A few yards further on, a local stops us for a chat about that game in 1989. Apparently, he comes to watch the home side occassionally, but made a point of coming down to watch ’em against us simply as he remembered that cup match!
Sir, you are quite mad. But then again, so are we!
Our hopes that we’d be able to get more into the game in the second half are dented slightly after 53 minutes when another neat, incisive move from the hosts ends with a ball across from the right. It’s nodded away to just beyond the far post before being put straight back into the danger area. The recipient of the pass has his shot blocked only for it to rebound across goal to the normally deadly Holdsworth, but somehow from 6 yards out, Emberson not only blocks the effort, but holds on as well.
This seems to give the lads a little bit of confidence as well us as lot behind the goal. And as expected, our play along with the noise levels improve.
On 56 mins, a pass out to the right finds Gray, he steps inside his man and forces Howells into his first real save of the night, smothering Matty’s low drive at the near post.
It seems the Hawks are flagging a little as suddenly, our midfield is finding time to get the ball down and play better quality balls into the channels for the pacy frontmen. A sweeping move of our own displays this after 58 minutes, when a quick cutting series of passes out from defence sends Cornwall away from his marker on the left. He tries a cheeky low shot at Howells near post, but the experienced stopper is wise to it and pushes the ball around the post for a corner.
Havant remind us what they’re capable of after the hour though, another quick exchange of 1 touch passing (that were it not cutting through OUR team would be an absolute joy to watch!) opens up the centre of defence. But the hosts striker fires across goal from the right.
With 75 minutes played, it’s again our turn to attack at speed with some good precise passing. Cornwall once more gets joy to the left and clear of his man, slides the ball across the box just inside the 18 yard box for Watkins. But having shaken off his man, he completely scuffs his first time shot and it trundles away towards the right touchline.
Our hosts decision to go 4-3-3 in an attempt to break us down is seemingly causing them more problems than us. Their already tired looking midfield is now being overrun and it’s our turn to boss proceedings.
More quick and accurate delivery down the channels from the midfield this time sends Watkins away down the left side. But Howells reacts quickly and is off his line to block Craigs shot. Immediately after, the match swings back upfield and Emberson is well placed to hold a good header from a left sided free-kick.
As we approach the last 10 minutes, this tactic pays off. Watkins harasses a Havant man out of the ball and Quinton nips in. He looks up & spots Akuamouah peeling away into acres of space and swings a good ball across the field to his midfield colleague. A defender comes across to try & cover, but Ed drops his shoulder, skips round him and whips a super ball across the 6 yard box that Cornwall meets with his head a couple of yards out and glances into the far corner.
I’m not quite sure why, but the ensuing celebrations are almost on a par with the lunacy displayed after Dom O’Shea’s effort at Eastbourne last season!
Luke decides to come and meet his public for the first time and disappears under a pile of supporters and team mates. I on the other hand am a little slow to react and instead get my own player to celebrate with, jumping on Tony Quinton who is merrily booting the crap out of the advertising hoardings in delight.
Sorry Quincy, not interrupting owt important am I mate??
The goal deflates the home side somewhat, although they do manage to conjour up one further opportunity with a couple of minutes left, hitting us quickly on the break again, this time down the left. The cross put in from the flank is inviting and alarmingly finds a Hawks player. But again Emberson is where he needs to be and makes an important stop.
Understandably at the final whistle, we’re more than a little happy! Ironic chants of “We are top o’ the league” and “Top of the league, we’re having a laugh!” ring out from the assembled U’s fans behind the goal.
With only Windy not working the following day, it’s decided to have a beer a bit closer to home and Mr Chalmers is tasked with the job of getting us back to the Hood before closing.
We pull out of the car park, stereo cranked up singing along like idiots to ‘Tom Hark’.
Conference South? Pah! We’re gonna piss this fucking tinpot league!*
*Please note that this is only temporary. Normal service will be no doubt resumed shortly and this tinpot league can get back to pissing us….
MAN OF THE MATCH – Gary Elliot. Super peformance at the back. Didn’t miss anything all night.
ENTERTAINMENT – 8. A really good game of football. Real end to end stuff
TEAM : Emberson,Palmer, Scarborough, Elliot, Gray, Quinton, Honey, Akuamouah, Gonsalves, Watkins, Cornwall SUBS : Blackwell, Marvell, Rivers, Wilson.
THE REFEREE’S………was cack 1st half. Booked Gray for backchat, then ignored some rather poor challenges BOTH ways. Then decided a 2 footed lunge on Gonsalves was a yellow card offence. Thankfully wasn’t such a knob in the second 45 and allowed the game to flow.