|Salford City||3-0||Havant and Waterlooville|
|Rooney 23', Politic 24', Whitehead 90+5'||National League|
By Henry Deacon (@H_Deaconmedia)
Two goals in two minutes in the first half ultimately saw the game past Lee Bradbury’s side in a game where the Hawks were equals for large chunks.
The result leaves the Hawks 19thin the table and a point above the relegation zone.
Four changes were made by the gaffer ahead of this one, with the suspended Will Wood making a return alongside Ed Harris, who returned despite not being fully fit. Elsewhere Bradley Tarbuck came in for the injured Rory Williams.
The Hawks had the first opportunity of the game within a minute of kick-off as Rutherford played the ball out to Tarbuck, who launched a ball into the penalty area, which would be rebounded away as far as Stock who would volley the ball over the bar.
But it would be The Ammies that would have the better of the opening ten minutes in general, with their best chance coming eight minutes in when Whitehead forced Dudzinski to tip over the bar from close range.
In the minutes that followed Lee Bradbury’s side started to come into the game and enjoy the large spells of possession that Salford enjoyed beforehand.
And so that made the opening Salford strike midway through the first half even more of a sucker punch, with the Hawks edging out the game at that period.
After 23 minutes elapsed, a long ball found its way into Adam Rooney, with the flag staying down, Rooney came bursting in towards goal and knocking it past Dudzinski in the bottom left to give Graham Alexander’s side the lead.
And seconds later, the lead was doubled as the ball was played into Pulisic, who in similar fashion to the opener with a shot from outside the area, with Dudzinski getting a hand to it before the ball hit the net.
Half an hour in and the Hawks had a chance that got away. A fabulous free kick from Will Wood, was deflected by the Salford wall out for a corner kick with his effort looking as if it was heading goalbound.
The Hawks would have the better of the minutes leading up to the break, with both sides creating opportunities in a contest that was of the end to end nature.
Lee Bradbury gave Nicke Kabamba 45 minutes in the second period, coming on for Theo Lewis.
And the Hawks would come out for the second period, pushing for that first goal which would have put the game firmly on a knife edge.
Seven minutes into the second period and Havant play a great ball out down the right to Ayunga, who launches a brilliant ball into the path of Kabamba across the face of goal, but the Hawks striker knocked the ball an inch of the top of the crossbar.
Then five minutes later, three efforts in quick succession as the Salford backline were scurrying the ball away from danger at all costs.
Ayunga would have two bites of the cherry, the first forced Neal to rebound the ball back in play towards the path of Kamamba, who couldn’t get a clean effort on goal, before finding Ayunga once more whose final effort goes wide of the target.
The Hawks enjoyed decent spells of possession in the second half, but the stubborn resilient Salford backline stopped any of the oncoming advances to pose a major threat before the final quarter of the game.
With eight minutes to play, it was the brilliance of the Salford ‘keeper Neal who would preserve the Ammies clean sheet following a crisp free kick by Stock into the path of Rutherford who flicked the ball goalwards, but Neal gets a big hand to the ball to knock it out for a corner.
For all of Havant’s huffing and puffing, with Will Wood launching ball after ball into the penalty area, the damb just couldn’t seem to be breached.
And to top of the Hawks’ afternoon, Salford found a second wind right before the end in stoppage time.
Lloyd should have made it 3-0 with seconds remaining as from the best part of six yards out and the goal at his mercy, blazes the ball over the crossbar.
Salford would get their third, with virtually the last kick of the game, when Danny Whitehead curled the ball into the top right hand corner, leaving Dudzinski with no chance of claiming the ball.
The Hawks beaten but the scoreline was far from a true reflection from the way that the game was played.
For the many chances that were created by Lee Bradbury’s side, Salford seemed to answer the questions presented to them.
Next up for the Hawks is a big home league game with Braintree Town in The National League next Saturday at Westleigh Park.