Match Data 2001/2002
Havant & Waterlooville 2
Crawley Town 0
Southern League Premier Division - Sat Mar 09, 2002
At one point earlier in the season Crawley Town were starting to set themselves up as run away leaders of the 2002 Doc Martens Table, but with just one narrow win in six matches over the last month and a half, events have transpired to put the Sussex based Southern League stalwarts firmly back in the pack. Back in November the Hawks suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of a very impressive side on their home turf, the breakneck speed of Warren Bagnall and Rob Collins finishing the match inside the first twenty minutes. Yesterday however neither player featured in the starting line up of a team that took a while to find their pace, and consequently found themselves playing catch up almost from the beginning of the game.
The Hawks’ line up is again beginning to settle after recent injuries and alterations. News from Mick Jenkins in the programme tells us that David Lee has decided to sign for Weston-Super-Mare, a club much closer to his home in Bristol and one doing well currently in the DM Western Division. Everyone I’m sure wishes David well, and all things being equal the Hawks may well come up against him in future should the Seagulls gain promotion.
Paul Wood is settling back into the midfield, and rather confusingly, Peter Wood made an appearance again on the subs bench after a notable performance for the Reserves in midweek. Peter’s loan contract will keep him with the Hawks until the end of the season. Before the match, Neil Champion picked up the Supporter’s Travel Club Away Player of the Month for February, gaining a bottle of Champagne from representative Mark Cooper in the process.
Evidence of sprightly play from the home side started the game as Dean Blake lifted a perceptive through ball to Paul Wood far out on the right wing. Woody took the ball on and turned it back in for Blake, racing into the penalty area, but in sight of goal he managed to miss the ball entirely as it passed in front of him.
Crawley proved to be excellent ball winners in midfield in the early going. On several occasions forwards Gez Murphy and Dave Stevens got behind the Hawks’ back line, but neither managed to threaten the goal. The Hawks however took their chances with excellent overlapping play on the wings, and in the 9th minute Jamie O’Rourke worked his way through several defenders far on the right before swinging a superb cross along the goal line. James Taylor was well placed in the six yard box to fire home, but took two attempts to do so. Keeper Andy Little blocked his first, and Stewart Holmes narrowly missed getting a foot to his second as the Hawks’ top striker hit the ground to reach the rebound.
Murphy replied for the Reds with two good forward runs moments later. Liam Daish cut his first cross short, but his second set up Stevens for a shot that spun a yard wide at the far post. Paul Wood saw a speculative lob drop just over the bar in the 22nd minute, and after Jamie O’Rourke was brought down just outside the Crawley box, Dean Blake’s heavy free kick to the far side was cleared from the pack.
For the second time in a week the Hawks went two up from an own goal. In the 29th minute Ben Price spotted Chris Ferrett’s forward run from the half way line and lofted a superb ball to the wingback as he raced free. He sent in a cross very close to the goal, and James Taylor could only watch as defender Ben Judge tangled with the ball and sent it into his own net.
Close to half time Danny Carroll made little use of a well placed free kick, and Murphy failed to control his shot after Gale slipped to let him through on goal. The half ended with an acrobatic dive from Paul Nicholls, leaping to ensure that a threatening strike from Holmes went wide of the post.
Crawley continued to show themselves as second best at the start of the second half. Caught offside by well worked traps at every opportunity, play held up for free kicks time and again as Hall, Gale and Daish controlled matters at the back. On an infrequent run to the byline, Younes Nabil turned the ball back for Murphy to chest wide of the post. Crawley’s closest chance of the half however came in the 55th minute when an overhead clearance from Gareth Hall dropped short to Jimmy Dack, who volleyed a shot that curled rapidly over Nicholls and clattered into the terrace off the bar.
Super Jim found himself in front of goal again in the 60th minute after a midfield pinball session left him somewhat surprised and in charge of the ball. He dribbled forward looking for a way past the gathering defence, and opted to put wide to Price, whose cross back in was cleared.
With a two goal cushion the Hawks were playing less forcefully, and the visitors sustained their first real period of pressure midway through the half after danger man Rob Collins replaced Dave Stevens. Gale was forced to put out a quickly taken free kick and Liam Daish lept high to clear the resulting corner. Moments later Nicholls was called on to stop a goal bound shot from Collins, and Gale cleared off the line after Murphy hammered the rebound back in.
The 77th minute brought a collision between Jimmy Dack and Paul Wood that saw justifiable cries for a red card from the stand for the Crawley player. Rolling in audible agony and accompanied by a curiously dramatic performance from the Physio, it was somewhat disheartening to see the ex-Farnborough midfielder up with a grin minutes later and putting in the same hefty tackles again. Woody, worryingly, was helped off the pitch and replaced by Neil Champion.
If anything, Crawley took the upper hand in the closing moments of the game. Nabil raced through the midfield to put a ball just too far ahead of Murphy, and Dack forced a save from Nicholls with a shot close in. At the other end, Super Jim ended the game with a shot sliced over the bar.
With neither side currently looking a certainty for promotion, this top of the table local derby became more a game played for pride, and the long and the short of it is that the Hawks step up to just six points behind the Reds with some three games in hand. League action continues at Westleigh Park on Tuesday evening with the Hawks’ first match against promoted team Chelmsford City, who last visited Westleigh Park back in April 1999 to take an unexpected 3-0 win back to Essex.
Crawley clear an early corner
Jamie O'Rourke and Marc Pullen
Neil Davis with the tackle
Daish looks for the corner ball
Dean Blake outstrips the Reds' midfield
Ben Price gathers infront of Gareth Hall
Daish clears a Crawley advance
Click thumbnails for larger pictures