Date: 29th October 2006 at 8:52pm
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Havant and Waterlooville reached the first round of the FA Cup for the third time in their nine year history with a 2-0 win against Brackley Town at St James`s Park this afternoon.

The Southern League Midland Division side put up stern first half resistance, drawing on experience from six FA Cup games played already this season, but Rocky Baptiste ended his goal drought with a thumping finish in the 62nd minute to put the hosts on the ropes. By the time he claimed his second two minutes from time Tom Winters had hit the bar for Brackley, but the hosts came no where close to a Hawks side who finally seem to have found their feet on the road.

Ian Baird brought Jamie Collins and Richard Pacquette back into his side, both having served their suspensions, making a midfield line that read Brett Poate, Collins, Phil Warner and Mo Harkin left to right. Neil Sharp took a place on the bench while Luke Byles partnered Tom Jordan in the heart of the defence.

Playing in yellow the Hawks started the game at speed, matching the early enthusiastic forward runs of their hosts with some measured build up play down the wings.

Brackley did well to see off an early corner, curled in the wind toward goal by Poate after Harkin`s initial cross was put out. Pacquette then turned on a precise ball to release a shot that beat keeper Richard Knight in the 8th minute, but the ball bobbled wide of the post.

Coming up the pitch`s slope the Hawks had the better of the early exchanges, but Brackley proved repeatedly that when allowed they could break extremely quickly.

Andy Williams swung at and missed an awkward back pass and Baptiste pounced to go one on one with Knight. The keeper made a good save with his legs, leading to a brace of corners that carried away in the wind.

Poate almost managed to put Pacquette through with a long ball, but the striker was tackled well and a throw ensued that Baptiste took and reclaimed for a squirming run that saw him dispossessed a yard from the near post.

Craig Farley`s long free kick bent in nicely toward the Hawks` goal and Shane Gore was forced to hurriedly punch the ball away at his back post. Brackley were showing themselves to be a competent threat, but the more direct attacking came from the visitors.

Poate then made an excellent attempt from the left and was only stopped by a sliding interception from James Saulsbury, but again the Hawks could make little from the corner.

Les Hines sent in a good cross for Brackley after Elliot Sandy brought the ball up the wing, and Scott Hadland latched onto the rebound for a driven shot that sailed high, typifying the home attack`s inability to find the target throughout the game.

The hosts continued to push while the Hawks started to wain toward the end of the half and Saulsbury`s cross found Matt Murphy in acres of space for low shot that Gore dropped on to stop.

Brackley Town 0
Havant and Waterlooville 0

Both sides came close to breaking the deadlock at the start of the second half. Scott Hadland should have tested Gore when he swept in to connect with a cross from brother Guy, but instead blasted his attempt well wide from close range.

At the other end Pacquette made three attempts but shot into defenders each time before earning a corner. Poate swung that in for Jordan to head home, but only after the referee had blown for a foul.

The hosts were not showing any fear of shooting from range, although efforts continued to go high, including a well placed free kick just before the hour that Farley sent blazing over the bar.

It started to look like the Hawks may slip into another forgettable away performance, reflecting the possession but lack of result seen at Thurrock and Bedford, but the tables turned in the 62nd minute when Baptiste raced ahead to take on a through ball and calmly fired it across Knight to take the lead.

Brackley almost leveled the score immediately when Murphy broke away on the left for a rasping drive from outside the box that slammed into the bar.

With 15 minutes remaining Pacquette made way for Dean Holdsworth after launching another high shot, and the Hawks maintained marginal control with further shots from Collins and Holdsworth himself.

Nothing though looked set to challenge Knight until Phil Warner picked out Baptiste running up the right with an excellent ball that Baptiste turned back toward Holdsworth just behind the penalty spot. Poate though ran through to snatch the ball before Holdsworth could strike, and got it tangled in his legs.

Having looked quietly comfortable the visitors secured the match and their first round encounter with Millwall two minutes from time when Holdsworth angled a brilliant skimming header from a ball by Harkin into the path of Baptiste for a surefooted and powerful finish.

Brackley though were far from dead and surged to the other end for Scott Hadland to try with a shot that drew a save from Gore.

Baptiste almost recorded a long overdue hat-trick in injury time when he found another chance to shoot from the edge of the box, but the ball deflected just wide of the post.

by Rich Self

Havant and Waterlooville will face Millwall in the F.A Cup first round. See latest article for ticket news…