Hawks 2 V 1 Weston-Super-Mare
The Hawks left it late, but came from behind in spectacular fashion at Westleigh Park tonight to dispatch visitors Weston-super-Mare with a 2-1 win. Despite taking the lion`s share of possession in the first half the hosts failed to find the net, and went behind three minutes into the second when Darren Hawkins punched a close range shot past Shane Gore.
But the resilient Hawks struck back in the 69th minute when Rocky Baptiste guided home a cross from Phil Warner, and just six minutes later Brett Poate found the net with an audacious chip from the left that sailed over Seagulls keeper Ryan Northmore and went in off the back post.
The Hawks started the game with the same eleven that finished Saturday`s. Craig Watkins stayed at the front in place of injured Richard Pacquette, and Luke Byles stood in again at the back for Neil Sharp.
The visitors were forced to make a change almost immediately when Scott Walker went down clutching his back just five minutes in. Darren Hawkins replaced him before Brett Poate lined up the first free kick of the game, bent the wrong side of the post.
Fans behind the goal erupted with cries of hand ball as Leigh Henry jumped across Rocky Baptiste to intercept another Poate free kick, but the referee awarded nothing.
Weston produced a rigid defence, and once again despite taking the majority of the possession the Hawks found it difficult to create challenging chances.
Phil Warner`s foul on Marc McGregor gave the Seagulls their first opportunity to attack from a set piece 16 minutes in, but Gary Owers, who until last week was managing Conference National side Forest Green Rovers, sent the ball too long and lost it for a goal kick.
The hosts should have taken the lead 20 minutes in when Warner lofted a corner into the box. Watkins raced for the back post to connect with Tom Jordan`s neat back header, but the ball bounced over him as he slid to meet it on the line.
Gary Thorne then slammed into Watkins as the pair tried to claim a long ball, giving the Hawks a well placed free kick that Jamie Collins blasted into Owers, deflecting out for a wasted corner.
The Hawks continued to look the more threatening side, despite not finding the target. Excellent passing between Baptiste and Poate carved up the Weston defence, but Watkins shied away from a shot before laying the ball back to Collins. His twisting attempt looked perfect, but whistled inches over the bar.
Shane Gore made a good reflex save to push Marvin Brown`s effort round the post when the striker slipped the Hawks defence. The hosts made light work of the corner, but Weston earned another soon after and the side began to settle themselves and take an equal share of the chances.
Lee Jarman`s free kick then cut low under the Hawks wall, making it the first on target shot for either side in the game, but Gore got down quickly to stop it.
As first half injury time approached, Poate put Mo Harkin away on a sprinting run with an excellent chip through the middle. Harkin then laid the ball off for Baptiste, but his shot cannoned into a defender.
Havant and Waterlooville 0
The visitors shocked their hosts three minutes into the second half when a cleverly worked string of passes ended with the Seagulls taking the lead against the run of play. McGregor played a throw off Sekani Simpson and the pair worked the ball beautifully through the Hawks defence with fast one touch passes, finishing with a curling cross to Hawkins at the back post. Totally unmarked, Hawkins volleyed his shot hard past Gore from six yards.
In reply, Collins sent in a corner for Jordan to miss at the back of the box and the Hawks suddenly looked more purposeful as Baptiste head a cross from Harkin wide.
At the other end, Jarman`s free kick went for a corner and although the Hawks cleared the danger, Brown lingered and claimed the ball back just onside and curled a lovely shot inches over the bar.
Harkin did well to keep a long ball in as it ran toward the line, and his cross back was met by substitute Tony Taggart for a thumping drive that Seagulls keeper Ryan Northmore managed to beat away only as far as Watkins, whose second attempt was head off the line by Thorne.
Having finally found the target, the Hawks built the pressure further and to the relief of their fans levelled the score in the 69th minute. Baptiste raced in to meet a superb long cross from Warner and guided it past Northmore with a delicate header.
Watkins held the ball up nicely just outside the Weston box as the hosts` purple patch continued, and Collins charged through to take it on, but lost out to Northmore who dived at his feet.
Just six minutes after equalising, the Hawks took the lead in spectacular fashion. Poate found space on the left and took on Henry, sprinting outside the defender before lofting a shot back into the box that sailed over Northmore and bounced in off the back post.
Having taken the lead though, the Hawks lapsed back into their less impressive hit and hope football, again only giving fans a tantalising glimpse of their title winning potential. Harkin did make an excellent run up the wing five minutes from time, streaking past defenders, but his cross was met by Poate who head it well wide.
Weston`s frustration at losing their lead showed as the side went all out for an equaliser at the death, and the Hawks replaced Watkins with Michael Warner, leaving Baptiste alone at the front and closing up the midfield. Warner`s creative through balls brought new options for the hosts, and Baptiste should have done better when he took one on in the 89th minute. With only Northmore to beat though, he fired into the side netting.
Two and a half minutes into injury time Baptiste was brought down heavily just inside the Weston box, but as cries for a penalty went up, the referee blew his whistle for full time.
By Rich Self
Hawks 2 V 1 Weston-Super-Mare
Hawks 2 V 1 Weston-Super-Mare