Ex Millwall, Wimbledon and Pompey man joins the Hawks
Lee Bradbury was looking to build on the HAWKS recent good vein of form and take another 3 points as the team continue their charge on the league title. Brian Stock returned from injury to captain the side with Jason Prior and Alfie Rutherford spearheading the HAWKS attack.
The HAWKS start the match with purpose with Bradley Tarbuck and Rory Williams firing over the target in the first 5 minutes. Just a minute later Bradley Tarbuck latches onto a Mike Carter pass stinging the hands of Josh Smith in the Merstham goal with his on target effort. Things quieten down as the Moastsiders find their feet in the match with a lot of midfield play, in the 21st minute the HAWKS earn a free kick 25 yards out, Brian Stock whips the ball onto the head of Jason Prior who is denied a goal by the woodwork. A few minutes later sees a Rory Williams 18 yard volley fly just over the bar. Havant and Waterlooville up the tempo and earn another free kick 20 yards out, again taken by Brian Stock who fancies a strike at goal, he too is denied by the Merstham upright. With a little under 10 minutes remaining in the first half Alfie Rutherford's cross finds Jason Prior whose shot is deflected for a HAWKS corner which is cleared by Merstham. With Merstham struggling near the bottom of the league they sense they can earn a point from the game and slow play down, Keeper Josh Smith goes into the book for time wasting. The first half comes to a close with all the goal attempts comingfrom the HAWKS with just the woodwork saving the Moatsiders.
Havant and Waterlooville come out for the second half with renewed confidence, just 4 minutes into the half and Alfie Rutherford strikes a screamer from 25 yards to beat the Merstham keeper only to see his shot rebound off of the post again. Ed Harris has a shot from 20 yards which is well blocked. 56 minutes in and the HAWKS break the deadlock, Jason Prior scraps for the ball on the Merstham goal line lifts the ball through to Theo Lewis who pokes home from close range to give the HAWKS the lead they deserve. On 64 minutes Brian Stock pulls up and is replaced by Wes Fogden, and the HAWKS faithful cheer the return of Ben Swallow as he takes over from Alfie Rutherford. 4 minutes later Marc Okoye takes an early bath receiving his second yellow of the match for hacking down Jason Prior in the penalty area and Merstham go down to 10 men. Jason Prior takes the penalty and fires home past Josh Smith with an ironic assist from the Merstham upright, HAWKS 2 Merstham 0. With 15 minutes remaining the HAWKS keep the pressure on with a sublime cross by Ben Swallow seeing Jason Prior at full stretch just an inch short of the HAWKS 3rd. On 81 minutes the HAWKS make their final substitution as Mike Carter makes way for James Hayter, with seconds of the change Rory Williams drives down the wing plays a deep ball across to the far post where nobody gets near to the rising Jason Prior who heads home his second of the day and the HAWKS lead 3-0. The Moatsiders bring HAWKS keeper Ryan Young into play for the first time in the game as he makes a comfortable save, the HAWKS see out the last few minutes and can thank their patience and commitment for a important 3-0 victory.