Hawks Swoop To Victory
Blues were dealt another blow to their survival hopes by title contenders Havant & Waterlooville writes The Mariner
The difference between teams at the top and bottom was perfectly illustrated this afternoon when Havant & Waterlooville came to Mill Field and went away with a comfortable victory.Try as they might Blues could not make an impression on a well drilled outfit and although they enjoyed their fair share of possession the visitors always looked in control.
Blues gave a first start to newly signed Isaac Layne and he made an impressive debut with some neat touches and a willingness to try his luck whenever he had a sight of the visitors goal.
The Hawks made their intentions clear right from the first whistle taking the game to their hosts and won a free kick inside the opening three minutes.From just outside the area Stock's kick almost caught out Amadou Tangara who was at full stretch to turn the ball behind for a corner.
A difficult surface and a blustery wind blowing across the park was not conducive to free flowing football but the Hawks adapted better to the conditions in the early stages and dominated possession forcing a succession of corners which caused some consternation in the home defence.
Blues were finding it difficult to gain a foothold in proceedings but they did eventually manage to carve out an opportunity when Joao Carlos fed Layne who saw his effort from 20 yards take a deflection which keeper Young did well to save.
Almost immediately the visitors struck. In the ninth minute a long punt forward from Young eventually saw the ball switched to the left flank drawing the Blues defence out of shape where the unmarked Williams didn't have to break stride and struck the ball hard and high past Tangara into the top corner.
Despite the shaky start and early setback Blues stuck to their task and began to enjoy their share of possession and again the lively Layne showed what he is capable of jinking past a couple of challenges and fizzing the ball just wide of the upright.
The visitors still looked to be playing within themselves and only a smart block from Tangara prevented another score but Blues were not to be outdone, good work down the right saw Kieron Bishop with a sight on goal but Young did well to get down smartly to save his sweetly struck shot.
The 29th minute saw the visitors awarded a contentious penalty by referee Mr Williams one of many decisions which had incensed Blues players and management.Patterson received the ball in the Blues box and appeared to lose control there seemed to be little contact as he stumbled forward but Mr Williams saw otherwise and pointed to the spot.Prior duly dispatched the kick past Tangara.
The second goal left Blues with a mountain to climb ad though they worked hard they made little impression on the visitors rearguard and could have gone further behind when a Hawks raid saw the ball flash across the Blues six yard box and only a fingertip save by Tangara diverted the ball away from the onrushing Prior.
The start of the second period saw manager Jamie Stuart replace the injured Matt Baxter with Nathan Campbell moving into midfield and the move appeared to give Blues added momentum as they applied some early pressure .Havant though looked comfortable riding out Blues spirited start and appeared content to protect their two goal cushion playing the percentage ball when they needed to.
As the half progressed play became increasingly scrappy with numerous stoppages disrupting both sides rhythm limiting goalmouth action at either end although Harry Watkins tried his luck from a free kick but his shot whistled over the crossbar.
Lheureux Menga replaced Lartey Sarong and he made an immediate impact with a half chance but there was no power in his shot and Young gathered easily.Blues again enjoyed a degree of possession but too many times when they got forward the final ball was not there either a pass lacking pace to reach the intended target or overhit and sailing behind the Havant goal.
The later stages of the half was forgettable as a spectacle with numerous stoppages mainly due to some dubious antics from the visitors who seemed to go to ground too easily under the slightest challenge but the tactic worked as it disrupted the flow of the game and protected their two goal advantage.
In the end Havant proved to be too strong for the Blues winning the vital battles in midfield and although the homesters worked hard and stuck to their task they came up against a team that look strong candidates to take the league title come the end of the season.
The defeat although not making relegation a certainty still leaves Blues with a mountain to climb and only maximum points from their remaining fixtures will give them a fighting chance of avoiding the drop.Enfield at home now takes on added significance nothing short of a win will suffice