Havant and Waterlooville 2-0 Hemel Hempstead Town Match report by Allan Mitchell.
Vanarama National League South
Saturday 5th November 2022 This was always going to be a tough fixture against an ambitious side that have been in and around the top three all season, but any neutral supporters watching the game for the first 35 minutes would have been forgiven for thinking it was the Tudors who were the side challenging at the top of the table. Mark Jones side started the game superbly and looked in a confident frame of mind after taking a point off league leaders Ebbsfleet the previous Saturday. All the goalmouth action in the opening period took place in the Havant penalty area with Dara Dada, Brooklyn Ilunga and Josh Castiglione all having shots that either went wide or were blocked at the crucial moment. Kory Roberts will feel he should have got his header on target when he rose to meet a corner unchallenged but the chance of the game for Hemel came when a mistake at the back saw Josh Castiglione receive the ball on the edge of the box, he could have had a shot himself but unselfishly played it through to Ogo Obi who looked odds to open the scoring. Just six yards out and just the keeper to beat he could only scuff his shot into the arms of the grateful Hawks goalminder, when you felt that if he had put it either side of him he would have scored.
After all this pressure it was almost inevitable that Havant would open the scoring and they did, with their first real effort on goal on 35 minutes.
They had forced a corner which looked to have been dealt with but there was a miscued clearance that led to another corner. The Hawks are a big side so any dead ball situations were always going to be difficult to defend and as it came in, centre half Jake McCarthy managed to get in front of his marker and bundle the ball home from close range. There was a suspicion that he handled it as he put it in but the Referee waved away the appeals and gave the goal.
It was harsh on Hemel but the old cliché about not taking your chances came back to haunt them again. The second half saw Havant come out of the dressing room in a different frame of mind, obviously buoyed by the goal and off the back of a half time grilling from their manager, they pressed the Tudors from the restart and it looked a different game.
After forcing a couple of corners they added to their lead on 53 minutes, when the ball was delivered to the back post where there were three players waiting, it was headed back across the six yard box where 6’5” Mahammadu Faal had the easy task of nodding it home via the underside of the bar.
Hemel were restricted to the occasional counter attack now as the Hawks continued to press, Craig King made a superb save from Jason Prior who had arrived unmarked just six yards out, he powered his header goalwards but King dived full stretch and got a hand to it to keep it out. In a rare Hemel foray, sub Luke Holness managed to escape his marker and get onto the end of a good cross by Castiglione but he couldn’t keep it down and it flew high and wide. That was about it as far as chances for both sides were concerned as the conditions deteriorated with heavy rain and a strong breeze driving up the pitch and Havant held on for three much needed points. Tudors boss Jones conceded that his side just weren’t good enough in the second half which was disappointing and said that they really needed to score when they were on top, which continues to be a problem this season. He said they will continue to work on getting it right and won’t have to wait too long with Hungerford Town next up, on Tuesday evening at Vauxhall Road.
Hemel: Craig King; Harris O’Connor (Jordan Greenidge) Jernade Meade, Josh Lelan, Kory Roberts, Godfrey Poku © Dara Dada, Dominic Morgan-Griffiths, Josh Castiglione (Andrew Eleftheiou) Ogo Obi (Luke Holness) Brooklyn Ilunga.
Subs not used: Ethan Holt, Bayley Brown. Attendance 896