Westleigh Park, Havant
Take 1: Boxing Day football is great. It allows those of our persuasion to get out from beneath the hillocks of wrapping paper, tear the party popper streamers off the arms of our spectacles and be amongst our brethren full of festive cheer.
Take 2: Boxing Day football is awful. Hanging over the gifting and joy of the previous day like the sword of Damocles, as potential humiliation at the hands of your local rivals threatens to ruin Christmas like a naughty young cousin having a wee in the turkey baster.
Today was take 3. Two bald men in a ‘best bouffant’ contest - neither contender looking as though they had it about them to win the thing. It was summin’ to do wannit but, y’know, bleh.
Of course, I’d have probably taken a point before kick-off what with Eastleigh recently sashaying about like West Coast rappers, all gold teeth and fur waistcoats. With new investment and new faces in the boardroom as well as on the pitch, optimism is currently blowing through their club like a flatulent Nan bursting with sprouts.
I know many of you may be of the opinion that you cannot polish a turd but you CAN roll it in glitter, and thus Eastleigh might well sparkle for a bit before it gets to the almost inevitable ‘unpaid creditors’ stage. As such I was a little concerned that we might be early doors recipients of them flexing their new found financial muscle. However at this stage, it seems as though it’s going to take a lot more glitter for them to cover up what their season’s been like at its core.
That said, we’ve been very patchy in the glitter sense too. A recent away win brought the cooling pie of confidence within nostril range, but generally we never really know when our next good meal is likely to arrive. Here against Eastleigh, we had our chances but were wasteful, chances being shanked, quacked, zormed and flumped.
Leaving our most obvious goal scorer on the bench until the second period, whilst playing just one man up front, at home, was not the kind of statement of intent that suggested ‘Take 1’ on Boxing Day football (see above) was likely to be troubling us.
So, like I say, we had chances, so did they including the missing of what appeared to be a sitter. So, as a Boxing Day derby between local rivals, a classic of the genre it was not. It did not really live up to the billing, not like contests between us have done in the past (see links below).
That said, the game did lively up itself in the last quarter of an hour. Firstly, after Ollie Palmer (finally brought on to create a, get this, 4-4-2 formation) was felled by a tough but, frankly, fair challenge, our Lee Peacock sought retribution with a tackle that displayed more studs than a Fire Brigade charity calendar. Happily for us, he escaped with a yellow.
Not long after, Eastleigh skipper Tom Jordan also saw yellow in the 86th minute. For the second time in the afternoon. Naturally players that have left us in a protracted tapping-up saga claiming grass to be far greener in Eastleigh are rarely given a warm welcome when they return to Westleigh Park. However, they can usually be guaranteed a boisterous send off should they end up staring down a red card and thus we had our ‘victory’, albeit small and imperfectly formed, given that we failed to capitalise on our one man advantage.
It was though, at least, approaching some sort of valedictory entertainment. Minutes 1 - 86 seemed more like 40 days in the Judean desert, while the last five minutes plus injury time flew by like a Harrier jet.
Part two occurs next week, on New Year’s Day. Considering the crowd, and possibly a number of the players, will be staring through the heavy eyelids of Hogmanay, another afternoon doze of a game seems a safe bet. Which, given the number of poor calls I’ve made regarding what’s likely to happen this season, means it’ll be 4 each or summat.
Previously, on Dub Steps
30aug10: Havant & Waterlooville 2 Eastleigh 2
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