CHIPPENHAM V HAWKS MATCH REPORT
Havant and Waterlooville have failed to stop the rot of a record which now stands at 1 win in the last 13 opening days as they were held to a goalless draw at Hardenhuish Park. Injuries played a key bearing on Lee Bradbury’s team line-up with injured players having to fill the bench for the season opener.
The season as always would start with the usual nerves and adrenaline and straight from kick-off on the opening day Theo Widdrington put our hearts in mouths as from the half way line he made an audacious opening effort which went just wide of the mark. But it would take 8 minutes for the first major chance of note as Chippenham’s Jake Andrews’ free kick is whipped into the penalty area with a Chippenham player heading the ball but Ryan Young was there to collect.
The 10 minutes that would follow would see chances being created for both sides as firstly Jason Prior plays a ball back into Alfie Rutherford and his shot is saved by Jared Thompson in the Bluebirds goal. Then a matter of moments later David Pratt had a go with his shot going wide.
At this point the Southern League champions were looking deadly. After 22 minutes Pratt once more had a chance on goal and with the Chippenham fans ready to cheer their opening goal of the season Rory Williams came with a superb last ditch tackle to keep the scores level.
Three minutes later came the key talking point of the game, the disallowed Chippenham Town goal. As Chippenham take a free-kick, it hits the wall but Pratt gets the ball and slots home impressively but only for him to be deemed offside. The goal chalked off and the Hawks given a reprieve.
But that would be as far as major chances on goal was concerned in the first half as the game turned into a fiery and physical encounter with the odd half chance here and there. At the interval, nothing could separate the sides at 0-0.
HALF-TIME: CHIPPENHAM 0-0 HAWKS
The second half would get underway amid a beautiful afternoon at Hardenhuish Park and the unfurling of the Hawks supporters flags for the new season with 40-50 fans making the trip from Hampshire.
It would take 5 minutes into the second period when David Pratt for Chippenham Town sprinted his way into the penalty but as he tried to cross the ball across the face of the goal it would be blocked by the Hawks defence.
And just like the first period it would be dominated by the physicality of the encounter. With the pitch and the length of the grass disrupting any efforts from either side to play ant kind of Football. The physicality would lead to Mike Carter going into the book on the hour mark after he slid in from behind on David Pratt.
The closest the Hawks came to scoring in the second half came 20 minutes from time when Rory Williams put a free kick into the penalty area and it would only be Jared Thompson in the goal that would stop last year’s player of the season open up the new campaign with a goal. A matter of moments later Chippenham had another opportunity to break the deadlock as a ball is put into the penalty area but it would elude Sandell and would come to nothing.
With the stoppage board reading four minutes at the end of the encounter, the finger nails which had been growing over the past few months were being given it’s first of a number of battering’s this season. The Hawks were determined up until the bitter end as George Barker with his electrifying pace trying get the ball into the penalty area to no avail.
FULL-TIME: CHIPPENHAM 0-0 HAWKS
Post-match the gaffer Lee Bradbury said that “I think it’s a point gained, it was very tough, big, strong and direct side that keep chucking it into your box, literally from throw ins and corners and you can see how they won the Southern prem last year. They’re organised with the slope and the grass along with the hill and wind. It was hard in the second half today, we had to defend for our lives and I think we’ve come away with a good point.”
Next up for his side is the opening league game of the season as Jamie Howell, fresh from leaving promoted Bognor Regis Town sends his Eastbourne Borough side to Westleigh Park looking to pick up 3 points after they squandered a 2-goal lead at home to Braintree to lose 3-2.