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Havant & Waterlooville 1
Faal (86' pen)
1 Tonbridge Angels
Wood (23')
Jack Wood's strike puts the Angels 1-0 up.  Havant & Waterlooville 1 vs Angels 1 18.03.23.

Angels forced to settle for point

Two points dropped or a point gained was what Angels supporters were asking themselves as they headed out of Westleigh Park following a 1-1 draw with one of the pre-season favourites for promotion.  It’s a measure of how far Angels have come when there can be disappointment at only gaining a point at a place like Havant.  

That Angels came within five minutes of normal time to taking all three points is testament to a superb second half defensive performance although Jay Saunders felt his team at times played a little too deep.   The fact that a point was gained in the end was due to two excellent saves from Jonny Henly during stoppage time which was part of an aerial bombardment by the Hawks as they attempted to take all the points for themselves.  Once again Henly demonstrated why he is rated one of the best keepers in National South. 

Jonny Henly, Craig Braham-Barrett, Lewis Gard, Scott Wagstaff and Joe Turner were all restored to the starting line up following Tuesday evening’s defeat at the hands of Ramsgate in the Kent Senior Cup.  Jamie Fielding continues to be unavailable following a fractured wrist and there was a new name on the team sheet in the form of Bailey Akehurst who is a loan signing from EFL Gillingham until the end of the season and normally plays at left back.  He spent the game on the bench while he gets to know his team mates but almost certainly will be playing a key role as Angels continue their bid for the play offs.

The imposing Mo Faal for the Hawks was the first to show after four minutes and runnning at pace with the ball into the Angels 18 yd box but was repelled by the Angels defence the first of many duties that Sonny Miles and Ben Swift would have to perform over the next 95 minutes.  

Next, on five minutes Joe Turner made good progress down the left but the move petered out.  Six minutes later an excellent run by Jack Wood down the right wing ended with a brilliant cross that Greenidge only had to get a touch and Angels would have been front.  It was clear that Jack Wood was going to cause genuine problems for the Hawks but it seemed the home side didn’t necessarily heed the warning. 

Chances came for McCarthy, Kealy, and Roberts for the home side but punctuated by another dangerous run from the aforementioned Wood   On 23 minutes he was to make no mistake taking the ball through the Havant defence and producing a curler that went just inside Sharman-Lowe’s right hand post.  The midfielder only seems to score exciting goals.

The 24th minute saw a decent save from Henly and then four minutes later Faal was on the charge but it was the side of the goal he hit and not the back. 

Just after the half hour mark Turner set up Greenidge who only had Sharman-Lowe to beat but somehow a Havant defender appeared from nowhere and put the ball out for a corner. 

Havant forced two  corners in quick succession and then on 39 minutes Greenidge was through one on one with the Hawks keeper but it was the latter who came out on top,  McCarthy for the hosts then fired over when well placed but it was that man Jack Wood who had the last word in the half who struck a post with another of his trademark efforts, perhaps a defining moment within the eventual outcome of the game. 

Four minutes into the second half Angels momentarily thought they had in fact gone 2-0 up but Ben Swift’s effort following a free kick was ruled out for offside, probably a correct decision.

Havant’s Ruff made space for himself in the 51st minute but it was relatively straightforward for Henly.  Roberts again was asking questions of the Angels defence but on 67 minutes Henly proved he is human by dropping a cross which he did call for but with the goal gaping somehow the ball was hoisted over the bar. 

The 77th minute saw Substitute Tommy Wood set up Turner but the effort was comfortably over the bar. With Havant continuing to make most of the running it was a question of whether the Angels could hold on for those vital three points. The answer came in the 84th minute when Craig Braham-Barrett was involved in a clumsy collision with a Havant player, with both players going down and the referee adjudging a penalty against Tonbridge.  Mo Faal stepped up and made no mistake with pace to level up the score. 

The fun however wasn’t over yet.  Havant had a sense of pulling off a victory which a few minutes earlier had seemed unlikely.  They went for that ariel bombardment with Henly making two miraculous saves to frustrate the hosts but finally the referee blew for time.  

Afterwards, Saunders accepted that whilst his side had been relatively comfortable in the first half they had played too deep in the second period but at the same time the attack had failed to take good chances.

The draw means that Angels are just one point off the play off zone. Midweek games for other clubs might change that but next Saturday, Non-League Day will be a massive encounter at home against relegation threatened Hungerford Town. 

Photo: Ian Clear.  Jack Wood's fine strike puts the Angels 1-0 up in the 23rd minute  


Published Saturday 18th March 2023 (last updated Sunday 19th March 2023)