Saints fall prey to Hawks
SIMON Martin scored to crown his return to action but a brace from unsettled Havant & Waterlooville defender Tom Jordan further compounded the misery for the stricken Saints in the Blue Square South on Saturday. Caretaker boss Steve Castle snapped up stri
SIMON Martin scored to crown his return to action but a brace from unsettled Havant & Waterlooville defender Tom Jordan further compounded the misery for the stricken Saints in the Blue Square South on Saturday.
Caretaker boss Steve Castle snapped up striker Martin to bolster his attack and also signed midfielder James Quilter who made his full debut. Ben Martin returned to the club after his recent absence to join Scott Cousins and Ryan Frater in a back three.
Havant & Waterlooville, gripped by cup fever ahead of their home replay with League One leaders Swansea in the FA Cup Third Round, selected former Saint Gary Elphick in defence for the fixture at Westleigh Park. Elphick partnered Jordan who was playing his first home match since Blue Square South rivals Eastleigh attempted to sign him in November. Former Wycombe Wanderers winger Mo Harkin also came into the side and headline making striker Rocky Baptiste who scored the goal at Swansea to earn the replay, lined up alongside Jamie Slabber in attack.
Saints took the initiative on just four minutes when Simon Martin celebrated his fourth stint in City colours with a goal after a strong run from Lee Clarke through the scattered home defence. Quilter and Cousins combined to release Clarke who beat Elphick and, as goalkeeper Kevin Scriven emerged off his line, found Martin who fired the ball past defender Brett Poate on the line.
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Striker Martin, relishing his return on an initial one-month loan from Hayes & Yeading, threatened a second for the fast-starting Saints, only to fire well off target after turning in the box.
With Quilter keeping things simple in the middle of the park, the visitors looked composed while the Hawks, still reeling from their 4-0 collapse at Bishop's Stortford in midweek, struggled for fluency and focus. Their cause was not helped when Harkin was forced off the field due to injury on 16 minutes, replaced by Alfie Potter.
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The equaliser on 19 minutes was the first serious attack from the Hawks and a major blow to the ascendant Saints. Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Jamie Slabber crossed into the box for Jordan to thump an emphatic header past Nick Eyre.
Slabber was denied by Eyre from a Poate free kick and Elphick headed the rebound wide as the Hawks pushed for a second.
After the break, Havant striker Baptiste spurned a great chance when he failed to direct his header goalwards after a fine run and cross from Taggart. Midfielder Jamie Collins struck an effort wide and Baptiste just failed to reach a through ball as the home side threatened.
Lively young winger Hamza Twomey entered the fray on 56 minutes for City, replacing Jon Stevenson. Castle switched formations to a 4-4-2 with Twomey wide on the right and McKie on the left with Faal-Thomas and Cousins at full back.
The changes sparked the visitors into life, with Twomey at the heart of the good play. With an hour gone, McKie won the ball on the left and found Twomey who struck a venomous low shot which was blocked on the line by Havant defender Justin Gregory.
City were certainly hinting at better things to come in the future with Twomey cutting in from the flank and forcing Scriven to tip his strike wide.
The Hawks responded with a near miss from Potter and then took the lead in the 75th minute. Poate whipped in a free kick which was cleared out to Shaun Wilkinson who clipped the ball back in for Jordan to fire in his second goal.
Eyre denied Wilkinson before Havant sealed the points with a third in injury time. Wilkinson found Potter who crossed for substitute striker Craig Watkins to volley home.
Midfielder Paul Bruce almost signed off for his five-match suspension with a late consolation for Saints but his excellent free kick was acrobatically tipped over the crossbar by Scriven.