Steve King’s Havant & Waterlooville travelled to Somerset to take on high flying Taunton Town in King’s first Vanarama National League South fixture in charge of the Hawks. A goalless score line hardly providing a true reflection of the game, with plenty of chances for both sides including a Nick McCootie missed penalty in the dying embers of the game before Ansu Janneh was sent off by referee Michael Robertson-Tant after he judged a tackle on Ollie Chamberlain to be worthy of a second bookable offence.
The Hawks started the game the brighter with James Roberts having an excellent opportunity in the first 5 minutes after winning the ball from Joe Guest after a press from Callum Kealy. Roberts drove into the box, weaving and evading the Taunton challenges but he was unable to beat Lavercombe with his strike. Both teams looked to settle into the game and find their groove but the Hawks were forced into an early change as Yoan Zouma collided with Peacock’s keeper Dan Lavercombe and required immediate treatment from both sets of medical staff. A lengthy stoppage for the incident saw Zouma able to walk off the field but unable to continue as McNerney came on in his place.
Muhammadu Faal continued to ask questions of the Taunton defence as he spearheaded an attack running the length of the field before winning the Hawks a corner. The pressure continued for the Hawks as Faal was involved again after winning the ball and driving forward, the covering challenge saw the ball land with Innocent who could only win a corner with his cross. The Hawks looking the more dangerous of the two teams. Worner still had work to do claiming a number of crosses from long passes launched forward by the hosts with the Hawks keeper not really having his goal threatened too greatly by Taunton. The hosts had an excellent opportunity to try and beat Worner after McNerney was judged to have fouled Jarvis but Foulston failed to hit the target with the resulting freekick. The last real chance of the first half fell the way of the Hawks with Willson getting on the end of Jebb’s corner but his poke at goal was just the wrong side of the post.
HALF TIME: TAUNTON TOWN 0-0 HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE
The Hawks came out in the second half the brighter, playing on the front foot but failed to capitalise on some early chances. Jebb found himself in space out wide and flashed a cross into the box that Willson couldn’t quite connect with but Kealy running in behind him latched onto the delivery but was unable to convert with his effort blocked. Appeals for handball for the block by Guest waved away by the referee. Another big opportunity just a minute later saw Roberts fire over the bar from close range after latching onto a ball into the area. Crowe would be the next Hawk to break through the lines after he burst forward in an attempt to create a yard but, under pressure from Smith, conceded a goal kick
Jebb was involved again just before the hour mark as he picked up a loose bouncing ball on the edge of the area first time and unleashed a strike at goal. The effort was rising and looked like it might’ve been helped over the bar by Lavercombe but the Peacocks were awarded a goal kick as the Hawks pressure continued.
New signing Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, who had a solid game in the centre of the Hawks midfield, won the ball in the middle of the park and drove forward before looking to pick out the top corner but was unable to hit the target after weaving in and out of some defenders and fashioning some space.
One of the two second half Hawks substitutes Ansu Janneh had his name taken by the referee with just under 15 minutes left of play after the referee judged he had fouled Lee Lucas gave the hosts a chance to load the Hawks penalty area. James took the freekick aiming for Booth but Worner was equal to the effort and ended the Peacock’s attack. Booth was the target for plenty of the hosts set-pieces in the second period after he was picked out by a deep freekick that called Worner into action but the Hawks keeper once again made the save.
In the late stages of the 90, the hosts were awarded a golden chance to seal all 3 points from 12 Yards after the referee pointed to the spot after judging Ross Worner to have fouled substitute Elliott Dugan in the penalty area. It would be another of the Peacock’s substitutes that would take the spot kick, Nick McCootie, a chance to send Wordsworth Drive into raptures and send Taunton level on points with league leaders Bath City. McCootie stepped up and fired his effort wide of the bottom left corner, missing Taunton’s golden chance. Worner guessed right and had the bottom corner covered but he didn’t need to get a touch in the end.
A late Taunton period of pressure following the penalty was aided by Janneh receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Ollie Chamberlain with the referee producing a red card to the Hawks man meaning that the final 3 minutes of added time would be seen out with the Hawks playing with 10.
Not long after the referee brought the game to the close to see the spoils shared as the Hawks take a point back to Hampshire keeping their first clean sheet since a 3-0 win at Westleigh Park over Chelmsford City in the middle of February. A solid performance from an improved Hawks side that could’ve easily taken all 3 points from the game.
FULL TIME: TAUNTON TOWN 0-0 HAVANT AND WATERLOOVILLE
Taunton Town: Lavercombe (GK), Foulston, Booth, Chamberlain, James (C), Jarvis (McCootie 61’), Guest, Stearn (Dugan 81’), Smith, Morgan (Day 56’), Lucas
Unused Substitutes: Irish (GK)
Cautions: Stearn 34’
Havant and Waterlooville: Worner (GK), Innocent, Crowe, McCarthy (C), Kealy (Deacon 74’), Faal (Janneh 64’), Willson, Jebb, Berkeley-Agyepong, Zouma (McNerney 22’), Roberts
Unused Substitutes: Mehew, Stedman
Cautions: Kealy 38’, Janneh 76’
Sent Off: Janneh 90+2’