Westleigh Park, Havant
I would have said after our first game that there’s no better way to record a first win of the campaign than to engulf the optimism of the new ambitious pups on the Conference South circuit (in this case, Dartford). I would have said that, had we been able to hold onto the lead we took into injury time.
Similarly, I would have said after this sixth game, that there is no better way to record a first win of the campaign than to vanquish our acrid, morally-barren local rivals, Eastleigh. Again, I would have said that, but…
Eleventh hour equalisers are breath-taking, no question. When it falls in your favour, that breath is taken by awe and delight. When it falls against, it is deflating, as though your breath has been apprehended, duffed up, locked in a car-boot and later forced to film a grainy video nervously detailing the terms of ransom. The difference between when draws feel like wins, and when they feel like defeats.
Six games in now then and we’ve had no win at all to speak of, and our two closest calls have been lost to 96th and 93rd minute sucker-punches. This has been particularly gutting as, on both occasions, our 2-1 leads have been obtained by absolutely magnificent strikes within the last ten minutes of regular time.
So, as I’ve stated, it’s enough to make one feel like an incorrectly tied balloon at the best of times, but when it comes at the hands of the local rivals, it’s like your inner balloon has careered off around the garden, as the air races from its nozzle, before coming to land eventually on your golden retriever’s first back-door expulsion of the morning. Still, I feel it is in the interests of science at this point, or my morale at any rate, to remind all concerned that Eastleigh have still only beaten us once in fifteen fixtures; 8 H&W wins and 6 draws make up the remainder.
Still, I’m not really interested in the Hampshire mini-league at this point, I’m interested in us fulfilling out potential and scaling the Conference South like a squirrel escaping heavy footsteps up the nearest tree. At least in this game we were able to claim our first goal from open play since that first game at Dartford. In the 28th minute of this niggly, physical game (as they tend to be against Ian Baird sides - we should know, we used to watch an Ian Baird side week-in-week-out before he decided to piss-off large down the road), Muzzy Tiryaki and Wes Fogden eventually managed to batter their way through a resolute and stick Eastleigh defence, like two spermatozoa using a tag team approach to penetrate the ovum.
With Eastleigh’s left –sided defenders drawn into this attritional battle, room was left for the ball to be threaded to Sammy Igoe, who was able to strike home a tidy, yet powerful finish that betrayed his many years in the pro game. Slightly less professionally, and clearly as the result of some early earache from the away end, he decided to celebrate by racing back down to their position behind our goal and cupping his left lug at them. Not quite the full Adebayor, but still enough to earn him a yellow card.
All was relatively rosy in the garden until in virtually the last second of the half, Bobby Hopkinson was penalised in the box for a foul on our ex-skipper Tom Jordan. To complete the former Hawks thumbing their noses at us aspect of this, Jamie Slabber stepped up to plant the spot-kick past Aaron Howe.
In the second half, we got more and more into the game, particularly after Manny Williams, still on a softly-softly return from injury, entered the field after 66 minutes. This added pressure was rewarded in the 82nd minute when Muzzy Tiryaki was fouled just outside the box. As the Eastleigh wall lined up, Ian Selley hopped about waving his arms in front of them, like a stranded country motorist attempting to flag down a passing van for a jump-start.
Amongst all this artificial confusion, Muz drove the ball right through the blockade, the ball striking the underside of the bar with some heft and bouncing into the back of the net. Handsome, as sentences involving the phrase “underside of the bar” usually indicate. Unless, of course, it comes as a reply to the question “where does the landlord in the Red Lion keep his crisps?”
However this glory was all too fleeting. Three minutes into injury time, and from a corner, Chris Holland rose tallest at the back post to head home Eastleigh’s equaliser. Deserved it might have been, and I might well have taken a point prior to kick off, as I would most weeks, but again to get so close in such circumstances is far more galling than it is agreeable.
Picture by Dave Haines
Neutral view: Twohundredpercent
Previously, on Dub Steps
03oct09: Havant & Waterlooville 2 Eastleigh 2
25apr09: Havant & Waterlooville 2 Eastleigh 2
29nov08: Eastleigh 2 Havant & Waterlooville 0
01apr08: Eastleigh 1 Havant & Waterlooville 1
22dec07: Havant & Waterlooville 1 Eastleigh 0
09apr07: Havant & Waterlooville 1 Eastleigh 1