Havant and Waterlooville made their game in hand over their top of the table rivals count as they defeated Oxford City 3-2 on Tuesday Night in a pulsating National League South clash. The Hawks started with the lethal front pairing of Prior and Tubbs with Charley Tuttle standing in for Rory Williams who was serving the second of his two match suspension.
The Hawks started the game impressively dominated the opening 10 minutes of play with their just deserts being given as after 8 minutes the in form Matt Tubbs gets on the ball and in the area puts a shot passed Sanders in the City goal.
On a pitch which did not make for too much condusive football the next opportunity of note came after 20 minutes when Matt Tubbs saw the Oxford City keeper off his line, going for goal but Sanders was all to aware of what he was about to do and held routinely.
Oxford's first chance came just moments after as they get the ball into the penalty area but it would go out for a corner of Charley Tuttle before the inswinging corner was easily dealt with by Ryan Young who had by far the quieter of the first half's between the two sticks.
Half hour in and a Hawks free kick by Lewis into the area finds the head of Ryan Woodford but "Woody" could only steer his header straight to Sanders who got down low to collect it.
The last few chances of the opening period fell to the visitors as first a free kick finds Fleet who can only direct the ball over and into the stand before Sinclair gets past the Hawks defence and with the linesman's flag staying down he couldn't get the ball past Young.
HALF-TIME: Havant and Waterlooville 1-0 Oxford City
The Hawks came out the dressing room a few minutes earlier than their 17th placed opponents knowing that despite leading, they still had a few gears to go. And before the start of the second half Lee Bradbury opted to change personel as Ed Harris was replaced by Mike Carter.
The Hawks would come the closest in the opening five of the second half as Matt Tubbs' curling effort inside the area beats the defence and 'keeper but with hearts in mouths the crossbar came to Oxford's rescue as Tubbs and the Hawks would be frustraited once again.
And that frustration would multiply moments later as ex-Hawk Godfrey Poku equalised. From nowhere Poku tried an audacious shot from distance before a bobble saw the ball go past Ryan Young much to his and everyone else's disbelief and non least that of Poku himself.
But the Hawks wouldn't be level for long as three minutes after the sucker punch a response followed when Mike Carter on the left crossed the ball into the area and it would be Lewis who would be the one to rise highest to head the ball home and his iconic "aircraft" descended upon Westleigh Park.
And then controversy reigned as Lewis goes down with the referee giving a penalty before consulting to his linesman who felt that Lewis was alleged to have been fouled outside the box with the referee reversing the decision, one for VAR perhaps? From the kick Prior connected but could only lash his header wide of goal.
Two minutes on and the hour mark approaching the ref points to the spot, this time for Oxford City and this time without the linesman's consultation. And with one Hawk in Godfrey Poku scoring against his former employers it would be no suprise that Matt Paterson would be the one to put the ball on the spot. And up against Young he slotted the ball home and a look of relief on his face as he headed towards the halfway line.
Lee Molyneaux was introduced to the preceedings 25 minutes from the end and his first contribution came not too long after as he planted a header from a Bradley Tarbuck corner straight at the keeper Sanders.
With just over ten minutes to go the Hawks went in front again as a free kick from Jason Prior from 25 yards foats into the penalty area with Matt Tubbs being the man to latch his header home to put the Hawks back in front and adding to his tally making it 4 goals in 2 matches.
Oxford City understanderbly shellsocked would be rocked further as through an off the ball incident with substitute Alfie Rutherford who played his first game since the injury he suffered at Moneyfields where Rutherford was floored by Reece Fleet who was already on a yellow but he was to be given a straight red card as tempers started to flare at Westleigh Park.
FULL-TIME: Havant and Waterlooville 3-2 Oxford City
And so the Hawks go into their massive game against Dartford on Saturday with three points in the back pocket, breathing not closly on the Darts but sat shoulder to shoulder at the top with the winner of the clash getting a crucial 3 point cushion.