New Year, New Result for the Spitfires who this time hold on to beat Havant & Waterlooville
After a dismal first half Reda Johnson’s first goal of the season early in the second livened up the Hampshire derby.
The Hawks pegged the Spitfires back with only ten minutes to go through substitute Hassan Jalloh’s close range tap-in, however Josh Hare’s thunderous strike earned not only all three points for the Spitfires, but also the south coast bragging rights.
A single change for Ben Strevens before this game was the re-introduction of Paul McCallum in place of Jack McKnight, after the Spitfires top scorer missed the starting line-up against Ebbsfleet because of a groin strain.
Danny Hollands still remained unavailable for the derby due to injury as did the suspended Michael Green, who was sent off in the reverse fixture.
The Spitfires and Hawks both stalled as they tried to fly out the blocks. Whilst most of the early play was in the middle of the park, the fiercest battle came in the Mackoy Community Stand as both set of fans attempted to out sing each other, which added to the derby day atmosphere.
The first real chance of the game fell to Yeates on the edge of the area. With his back to goal, McCallum squeezed the ball to Yeates a few yards away from him but as defenders rushed towards the Irishman, the best he could do was curl his effort into the arms of Dudzinski.
Many of the Spitfires’ chances were restricted to outside of the box. Wynter’s wild effort which ballooned over from 30 yards was bettered by Joey Jones, as he skipped past one Hawks player before his effort only just sailed over from a similar range.
As the half went on the Spitfires explored the aerial route. Patient build-up from Eastleigh worked the ball to Yeates on the left, who then cut inside on his right foot to curl a cross towards the back post where Williamson was positioned. However, the striker’s downward header bounced before Dudzinski comfortably claimed.
The Spitfires kept the pressure on as Jones and Oscar Gobern conducted play from the middle of the park. Havant held strong despite attempts to disrupt their backline from Reda Johnson, Alex Wynter and Josh Hare. But finally, Yeates wriggled himself free of the restraints the Hawks’ defence placed on him to receive the ball in the area, but he was quickly smothered and the Hawks cleared.
As half-time approached neither side had yet created a clear-cut chance. Yeates attempted to turn provider for Jones, who he floated a free kick to the back post for but the midfielder misjudged the flight of the ball and headed over from close range.
Both set of fans kept up the good atmosphere in the second half behind the goal Eastleigh were now defending, but all the early action happened up the other end. The Spitfires had four corners in succession and found the post through Andrew Boyce’s powerful header which crashed out to safety for the Hawks, but they weren’t out of the storm yet.
The Spitfires finally found a break through ten minutes into the second half when Johnson soared highest. Another corner for Eastleigh was floated into the box by Yeates and Johnson’s run was perfectly timed for the cross to head home the centre-back’s first goal of the season from ten yards out.
Whilst the Spitfires team celebration showed the passion in the game, they quickly had to get their heads back into gear as the Hawks finally caught a gust of momentum. The visitor’s corner was flicked on at the front post by Theo Lewis and looked to create a potential scramble in the box until Luke Southwood dived on the ball to defuse the attack.
Nicke Kabamaba then headed on Dudzinski’s goalkick into the path of Bradley Tarbuck on the Hawks’ right. But after the midfielder surged into the Spitfires box his hesitation to either pull the trigger or cross meant his eventual shot from a tight angle was wide of the near post.
With the Hawks continuing to pile pressure on with only ten minutes left they finally found their way back into the game. Lewis’ shot was well-saved by Southwood down to his left but substitute Jalloh was there to tap the ball home. However, the Spitfires were back in front five minutes later.
Despite blatant attempts to bring the attacker down, Yeates skipped past two Hawks players before he laid the ball into the path of Hare on the right to rifle the Spitfires into an unassilable lead from outside of the area when his strike found the far top corner.
The Hawks tried to come back but numerous over-hit passes from them blessed Eastleigh with a reprieve from their pressure and secured the Spitfires their first victory of 2019.
- Charlie Cranstone