Hawks 2 v 1 Histon
Report by Rob Self
Havant and Waterlooville became only the second team to beat Histon this season with a 2-1 victory at Westleigh Park this afternoon, toppling the leaders from the top spot in the process.
A first half onslaught from the visitors sent the Hawks into the break a goal down after Matthew Michell-King converted a corner in the 32nd minute, but a tremendous second half comeback saw Brett Poate level the score in the 67th before Rocky Baptiste took two attempts to beat ex-Sheffield Wednesday keeper Lance Key nine minutes from time for the team`s ovation earning winner.
The only change to the side from last week`s defeat at Bishop`s Stortford was the return of Neil Sharp, who took Tom Jordan`s place and forced the Hawks` captain into a rare appearance on the bench.
The game started briskly with the Hawks making the most of the opening few minutes, but Histon set out their game plan with a quick break from defence. The ball found its way to Ian Cambridge just outside the box on the right and his audacious chip beat Shane Gore to loop just over the bar.
Both teams pressed forward looking for an opening. Histon became more purposeful as the hosts struggled to link their passes together in the final third of the field. After ten minutes a sweetly struck shot from advancing right back Matthew Haniver hit the foot of the Hawks left hand post and bounced back into play to be cleared by a grateful defence.
The ball reached the other end and was knocked out for a corner. Brett Poate, showing a remarkable improvement on recent corner kicks, swung the ball across the face of the goal towards the top left corner. A desperate punch by Lance Key presented Mo Harkin with a great chance but his first time volley screamed over the bar.
Gradually Histon began to gain the ascendancy, looking more composed in midfield and using their backs to push forward down the flanks. As the Hawks were looking for ways to reduce the pressure, a midfield clearance struck Ian Cambridge and ricocheted into the path of Danny Bloomfield who gathered the ball and broke through the advancing defence to go one-on-one with Shane Gore. The keeper came out quickly to narrow the angle and Bloomfield`s shot hit the side netting. Two minutes later Bloomfield came again, this time on the right. Fortunately his well struck shot was smothered by Gore.
It was not all Histon however. There were occasional glimpses of Hawk pace and endeavour. Richard Pacquette found himself with the ball just outside the box on the Histon left, managed to reach the bye line and cut the ball back to Rocky Baptiste. Under pressure, Baptiste`s strike across the face of the goal just drifted wide of the left hand post.
Players from both sides were making it difficult to take quick free kicks and the referee`s restraint finally broke when he booked Phil Warner in the 29th minute.
Three minutes later the first real on target shot for either side came from Ian Cambridge. His fiercely hit shot was palmed over the bar by Gore for a corner. Cousin Adie Cambridge took the corner quickly and it fell to Matthew Mitchell-King on the edge of the box, whose curling shot found the far corner of the net.
Fan reaction showed that perhaps the inevitable had happened, and that Histon would take further control of the game. But that was not to be and the Hawks started to show more urgency in getting the ball forward and began to defend less deeply.
Almost immediately after the goal Poate had a wonderful chance breaking through into the box on the Histon right. He somehow managed to keep both his feet and the ball through two strong tackles but this put him off balance and he stumbled into the goalkeeper scuffing his shot just wide of the post.
A spell of end-to-end football ensued as the half time whistle approached. During the three or four minutes of added time the Hawks began to hint at what the second half might bring. Sustained pressure saw several good chances as the Histon defence failed to repeatedly clear the ball, and shots reigned in only to be blocked or punched clear by Key.
Havant and Waterlooville 0
The second half started with the Hawks attacking the goal at the Barton`s Road end. Conditions throughout the game were good and the playing surface was a credit to the groundsmen, playing a part in the quality of the football yet to come.
Within three minutes of the restart another player was booked for preventing a quick free kick. This time it was Histon`s turn as Erkan Okay was shown the yellow card.
The game began to look a little one sided as the Hawks pressed forward in numbers, gaining almost complete control of the midfield, while Histon dithered over defending their lead or attempting to increase it. The visitors` authoritative play of the first half gave way to hesitation that the Hawks were quick to exploit.
On 50 minutes Poate`s cross from the right left a six-man Histon back wall stranded as it found Baptiste unmarked on the left. He headed the ball down to Mo Harkin, coming through the wall, but his shot was well saved by Key.
Further pressure three minutes later saw a cross from Poate, this time from the left, cause mayhem in the Histon defence when Mitchell-King could only clear the ball toward his own goal, and Key somehow managed to scoop it away off the line.
Looking to restore both their first half composure and attacking flare, Histon replaced Ian Cambridge and Danny Bloomfield with Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Neil Kennedy, but this only made matters worse for the flustered side.
The bounce of the ball was certainly in the Hawks favour as yet another fiercely struck free kick from Poate found Key making a superb diving save to his left to reach the ball at the foot of his post.
Tony Taggart came on for Mo Harkin on 64 minutes and increased the pressure on Histon`s left flank with his ball control and tireless running. Then three minutes later came a repeat of an earlier free kick, this time quickly taken by Collins. The ball crossed to Pacquette who stabbed it back to Poate running forward. This time, not even the brilliance of Key could do anything about it as the ball finally hit the back of the net.
As the final ten minutes approached Histon began to look progressively more tired while the Hawks were passing the ball quite effectively. Byles was booked for a missed timed tackle on Haniver and Dean Holdsworth replaced Richard Pacquette, arriving to applause from the terrace as he made his first competitive appearance for the Hawks since August 2005.
Two minutes after coming on Holdsworth found the time and space to slot the ball through to an unmarked Poate, who worked his way along the edge of the box before releasing the ball to Baptiste. His rocket like shot was parried fantastically by Key, but Baptiste made no mistake with the rebound, taking the Hawks into a richly deserved lead nine minutes from time.
Immediately Fitzroy Simpson came on to replace Collins. His influence in the remaining minutes did much to steady what had by now become an excitable midfield. During five minutes of added time Histon tried hard to recover, but all the side could muster were strong runs down either flank leading to players being dispossessed as they moved in towards the box.
Hawks 2 v 1 Histon
Hawks 2 v 1 Histon