Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Welling United 3 Havant & Waterlooville 1

Conference South
Park View Road, Welling
att. 381

Regular readers of this site (if there are any left given the weary, grumpy tone we have adopted of late) will have noticed we have adopted a weary, grumpy tone of late. However, another day, another 3-1 defeat and, yet, I am here to praise the Hawks as though they were a dead philanthropist.

In previous missives, I have responded to draws and wins with groans, moans and bellyaches. Today, you find me, post-defeat, with a level head, so level in fact that it’s currently tucked into a brickie’s toolbox. I could probably have chosen a better phrasing there.

Usually I stand behind the goal we are attacking but took the opportunity afforded by the fact we were unlikely to be ‘mobbed up’ for this fixture, to take a look at things from the half-way line and, to my astonishment, I spent 85 very happy minutes watching us defend. Yes, you read that correctly. Well, not just defend, but after Scott Jones was tunnelled just before half-time, it was always going to need a committed rearguard rather than an attacking flourish.

Depending how you look at it, Scott Jones two yellows were harsh. I’m not convinced his red-sealing dive was as described by the match official, but I’m perfectly prepared to accept the first yellow was worth his being introduced to. Certainly it was a take-no-prisoners tackle usually associated with midfield malcontents than sprightly strikers.

We had taken the lead ridiculously early, the second minute to be exact; a beautifully flighted free-kick being met with a Perry Ryan header as crisp as a frost-covered lawn. Welling pushed forward, brushing the bar with a cross from a tight angle, but with little else to report in the first half.

Detriment, in the form of a man being removed from our XI, would in theory give Welling license to roam a bit further in the second period but, by and large, they were given precious little space, the defence and midfield standing strong, while Ollie Palmer ran about up front in a way not seen since before his term-time holiday. Naturally though, our attacking forays were to be few and far between.

Lyall Beazley made a couple of good saves, and one great reflex one, finger tipping over the bar from a prostrate position with Loick Pires having most of an open goal to aim at. However it looked as though we would run down the clock, our rugged, gritty effort (the antithesis of the limp, lackadaisical display at Chelmsford) combined, to be frank, with not a little time-wasting, countering anything Welling had to offer.

Then there was the crazy four minutes. Preceded by eighty-six pretty good minutes they may have been, but crazy there were. First Welling were awarded a penalty for a trip, five seconds after they should have got one for handball. Lee Clarke’s kick was damper than my Chelmsford trousers and Lyall moved the right way to make a decent but relatively straight-forward save, however it fell right into the path of Harry Baker who fired home. Straight from the kick off, Luis Cumbers bombed forward before laying off to Ben Greenhalgh who struck home a gorgeous shot from the edge of the box. Gone in sixty seconds.

Shell-shocked, it was now like Culloden and we were the ones wearing the kilts. Three minutes later a third Welling goal was scored, a run and side-foot stab from Greenhalgh hitting both posts before being followed in by Cumbers. At this same moment, the injury time board was showing four minutes and it felt like Welling had time to get a couple more. We were deflating as quickly as the balloon that slips off your finger as you’re trying to get enough purchase on the knot.

However, much as one is inclined to add this to the litany of woe being aimed at the manager, the truth is this 240 second aberration could have happened in any season, and came at the end of the best Hawk performance in some while. However, in those others seasons, we might have built in a little slack (y’know, by winning a few more games) to cover evenings like these.

With this as one of the games in hand on those below us currently attempting to grab our ankles and drag us into their burning pit, this was certainly not the time for a decent performance to go unrewarded. Yet three away games in a row now have ended with us conceding three and we go to Dorchester on Saturday, a side managed by our former goalkeeping coach Alan Knight, who has turned things around for the Magpies and will know ALL about us.

You'll forgive me my fear won’t you?

Previously, on dubSteps
06mar10: Welling United 1 Havant & Waterlooville 0
26apr08: Havant & Waterlooville 1 Welling United 0
10mar07: Welling United 1 Havant & Waterlooville 1

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