Blue Square Bet South
Havant & Waterlooville 2 Boreham Wood 1
by John Mead
This defeat against a resolute Hawks side, given the successes of the other teams battling for survival, leaves Wood six points adrift of safety.
The main talking point of what was a game of few chances was the walk in goal Wes Fogden was allowed by Wood, when centre forward Ali Chaaban’s pass back was completely missed by Hawks ‘keeper Aaron Howe allowing it to sail into the net from the half way line, after the home side had kicked the ball out to allow treatment to an injured player.
Wood Manager Ian Allinson explained, “They had a good passage of possession prior to kicking the ball into touch. I doubt if Ali meant to blast home from fifty yards from the throw in, but we were left in no doubt that the correct thing to do was to allow Havant to walk the ball into the net from the restart.”
A leg break and dislocated ankle suffered by Hawks Bobby Hopkinson after twenty-one minutes, when he fell awkwardly, overshadowed the victory for the home side, courtesy of Guiseppe Sole’s 66th minute header.
Chaaban had a great opportunity to open the scoring when Jordan Hibbert slipped him through on goal, only for the ex-Staines Town man to lean back and fire over the bar. A further chance to take the lead came after fourteen minutes. Danny Green in the middle of the park sprayed a fine long ball into the path of Ola Sogbanmu. He chested down before unleashing a superb drive that crashed off the cross bar with Howe well beaten.
The outstanding central defender Sam Pearce then headed just over for the home side after dead ball specialist Jon McDonald’s delivery from a free kick on the right. With further clear cut chances at a premium after the departure of Hopkinson, who had been a thorn in the Wood defence’s side, it was obvious a change in tactic by either side could herald the points available.
The Hawks abandoned their long ball game somewhat after the interval and thus became a more difficult side to break down. Wood could have thrown caution to the wind and gone all out for the victory, but when that decision was made the pressure on the Wood defence had already paid off. Elvijs Putnins pulled off a fine save diving through the air to deflect what was a certain goal from Ian Simpemba who latched onto a free kick with a fine header after 56 minutes. This was the Hawks’ best spell and when Sole’s back heel released Mustafa Tyriaki, he was allowed to run through on goal from an offside position, with Wood again relying on Putnins, who was quick off his line to smother the effort.
Ryan Moran and Green combined for Wood, allowing Hibbert a cross into danger that picked out Green, yet he could not finish the move. Wood did hit the target through Hibbert and Sogbanmu, yet failed to trouble Howe before the deciding goal came. A sustained onslaught on the Wood goal resulted in Tyriaki delivering a fine ball into danger from the left, which Sole expertly dispatched with his head, giving Putnins no chance.
Greg Morgan and Nicky Nicolau were introduced with fifteen minutes remaining, which improved Wood’s attacking options. Then came the Chaaban back pass and the walk in, before Wood tried desperately to steal a point. Howe took two attempts to smother a Nicolau cross but there was no way through a packed and well organised Hawks defence.
In summary Ian Allinson commented, “It was a lot of huff and puff first half. I felt we could have gone on and won it second half, yet they shortened their game and kept the ball better than us. If you do not take your chances you get punished. We had two great opportunities through Ola and Ali first half which had we have taken them would have set us up nicely. Instead we were left chasing the game against a good side.”
Team: Putnins, Garrard, Cestor, Moran, Wilkinson, Risbridger (Sub – Morgan 75 mins.), Noto, Sogbanmu, Chaaban, Hibbert (Sub – Adjei 85 mins.), Green (Sub – Nicolau 75 mins.).
Subs (Not used): Kamara, Baker-Owers.
Goals: Havant & Waterlooville: Sole 66, Fogden 83. Boreham Wood: Chaaban 82.
Man of the Match: Elvijs Putnins.