Hawks 1 V 1 Lewes
Havant and Waterlooville held title favourites Lewes to a 1-1 draw at Westleigh Park this afternoon, having to come from behind after the visitors took an early lead. Jamie Cade put the Rooks ahead in the 12th minute, capitalizing on more lackadaisical Hawks defending, before leading scorer Rocky Baptiste fired home a brilliant Richard Pacquette cross in the 71st minute to force a share of the points.
Michael Warner returned to the starting line up in a side that otherwise remained unchanged from Monday`s game against Farnborough.
The hosts found chances from dead balls in a slow opening. A string of free kicks allowed the Hawks sight of the Lewes goal, but the closest efforts came from Craig Watkins`s early twisting shot that rose over the bar, and a glancing header from Phil Warner that whistled past the post.
Another worrying moment of weakness in the Hawks defence gave Lewes their early lead. Andy Drury stumbled through two tackles from the edge of the box, and with the home defence tied in knots, passed for Jamie Cade to poke a shot past helpless Hawks keeper Shane Gore from two yards.
The hosts attempted an immediate reply when Pacquette put Baptiste through, but with only Lewes keeper Paul Wilkerson to beat, Baptiste tried to turn behind a defender to trick his way toward the far post and instead fired into arriving players. Watkins then sent a looping shot onto the post from the corner.
Twenty minutes in the hosts were forced to make an early change when Neil Sharp came off with a calf injury to be replaced by Fitzroy Simpson, and causing Phil Warner to shift into defence. Minutes later Lewes also made their first change, bringing on Lewis Hamilton in place of captain Dean Hooper.
A poor tackle by Cade on Michael Warner earned him the first card of the game, and Poate struck a firm 30 yard shot from the free kick that sailed over the bar.
Play halted 30 minutes in when Simpson`s lunging tackle on Steve Robinson earned him a caution, but keeper Wilkerson also picked up a card for mouthing off in the aftermath.
Neither side could produce the sparkling football expected of such a high profile clash, although hopes of a flowing game were suffocated by stop start refereeing.
Drury curled a free kick wide before Wilkerson was almost caught by a low 25 yard drive from Poate, but the keeper scrambled across his goal quickly enough to make a diving fingertip save to push the ball round the post.
Baptiste slid a superb pass through to Watkins, whose angled shot was beaten back to him by Wilkerson. The striker tried again, only to see his second attempt deflect out off defender Robinson`s raised arm, but the referee awarded a corner that Michael Warner head wide. On the stroke of half time Karl Beckford fired in another Lewes free kick, again ably claimed by Gore.
Havant and Waterlooville 0
The hosts chanced using their remaining substitutions at half time, replacing Watkins and the surprisingly quiet Tony Taggart with Jamie Collins and Mo Harkin. The edgy hosts came back determined to make the most of the second half. Michael Warner head clear a scything cross from Drury and Pacquette harried the ball to the far end where Baptiste managed to squeeze it between defender and keeper with a soft bouncing shot that dropped outside the post. Baptiste followed immediately with a firmer effort that Wilkerson got behind to stop.
Lewes played a predatory game, taking chances where they could with a patient approach that saw Gary Holloway test Gore with a tremendous shot on the hour. The highly effective Drury then worked the ball in when Lewes took a short corner, but Hamilton completely missed his superb cross across the face of goal.
At the other end Harkin curled a great free kick round the visitors` wall, only for Jordan to misdirect a close range header over the bar.
But the Hawks struck back in the 71st minute with a superb two-man move. Pacquette`s long diagonal from the half way line picked out Baptiste outside chasing defender Hamilton, and the leading striker buried a powerful shot past Wilkerson from the edge of the box.
The hosts surged forward again and Baptiste came within inches of a second when he missed Poate`s precision cross at the back post, before Poate himself curled a corner onto the bar.
Lewes wasted a chance to claim the game when Drury`s ball in found Paul Booth in acres of space, but the striker sent his header well wide.
The equaliser fired the Hawks into life and the side took the upper hand in the time remaining, but despite further shots from Poate and Baptiste the confidence building win remained elusive, along with the chance to jump into the league`s top ten.
By Rich Self
Hawks 1 V 1 Lewes
Hawks 1 V 1 Lewes