The sun shone briefly to welcome our first home game for a month. Boro’, were entitled to feel a little nervous following a spell of four successive defeats, while the ‘Hawks’  could be expected to show the confidence of a team riding a wave after eight games unbeaten.

Still without Scriven and Lovett, both still injured, Boro’ gave a first start to Dan Lincoln in goal. Also, with Doyle suspended, Nathan Koo-Boothe and Tyrone Berry were in the starting line up along with 17 year old Jack Jeffrey. Regulars, Treacher, Huggins, Inns, Donnelly, Bennett, Laidler and Page completed the starting eleven. On the bench were:- Tarpey, Hammond, Fearn, Williams and Monan.

The game started with both sides feeling their way and play switching quickly from end to end. Boro’s first
real attack saw Page and Berry link well, but the final ball beat Berry to the goal line. Strong defending from Inns and Koo-Boothe blunted the visitors efforts. A long Donnelly free kick was headed clear and from the break, Ciardini put Kabba  through only for Treacher to get back and make the block for a corner.
From the corner the visitors almost took the lead when, from a ruck in the area, they struck the bar with the rebound being cleared.

Around the half hour, Berry brought a good save from Bevan and from the resultant corner, Donnelly’s cross was punched over for another corner and shortly afterwards Donnelly tee’d up a shot from 20 yards which sailed well over. Bennett made a run into the area, beating two defenders before falling and when  the ball got put through to him again, Bevan was quickly out to block his effort.

On 38 minutes, Hawks were luckily allowed to continue from what looked to be an off side position, leading to a corner which was headed wide. In the 40th minute, Havant broke the dead lock when a Ciardini free kick on the right led to a scramble around the penalty spot and Dennis Oli finally
poked the ball home (0 – 1).  

In the 43rd minute Ciardini dragged Donnelly to the ground which caused an angry retaliation. Both players were booked. Then in stoppage time, Huggins was booked for a clumsy tackle just outside the area on the left side. The kick went into another melee about eight yards out and Lincoln turned the ball onto the bar, unfortunately, following another scramble, Kabba, poked the ball in from close range (0-2).

Half Time 0 – 2.

Neither side made changes at the break and Boro’ started the 2nd half with more purpose and in a 10 minute spell, saw a speculative 35 yarder from Bennett fly wide and, following good approach work, Bevan again saved his side tipping a Huggins shot over the bar. Bennett put Berry through only for Bevan to make another good save.

On 62 minutes, Boro’ brought on Tarpey for Jack Jeffrey, who had certainly not disgraced himself on his first outing. After more end to end play, Havant made a double substitution on 66 minutes replacing Jones with Monteiro and Ciardini with Blanchett. A minute later and Boro’ at last reduced the arrears, when Bennett put Scott Donnelly through and he made no mistake from 12 yards (1 – 2), making for an interesting final 20 minutes or so.

Havant made their final substitution on 76 minutes, replacing Dennis Oli with Alek Przespolewski. Play continued from end to end with both sides guilty of mistakes before a sustained Boro’ attack bore fruit in the 80th minute. The ball had been in and out of the Havant area when Inns managed to flick a header to Huggins who steadied himself and thumped home the equaliser.

The last 10 minutes were rather frantic and, in truth both sides came close to a winner. In the final analysis we can’t argue with a point. There were some strange decisions at times by Mr Fitch and his Assistants, mainly surrounding their interpretation of the off-side rule, but given our recent form, this was a better performance than of late and  for my money would be happy to see more of several of those which started today’s game.

‘Boro end the year with a point which moves them up one place to 15th, our next test is the return fixture against Basingstoke Town on New Year’s Day (Wednesday).

Final Score:- Boro’ 2 – Havant & Waterlooville 2.

Match Report by Tony Duff

Match Highlights courtesy of fcvideo:

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