MATCH REPORT | HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE 1 DARTFORD 3

Former Hawk Alex Wall returned to haunt his old club by netting an excellent brace, as a spirited Dartford side inflicted a punishing defeat on Havant & Waterlooville at the Draper Tools Community Stadium.

With temperatures dropping below freezing point across the country, many were wondering if tonight’s fixture in Hampshire would go ahead. Yet it most certainly did and it was the visitors who took advantage of the icy conditions by beginning the game in a positive manner.

As manager, Alan Dowson, shuffled his side a little following the weekend’s stalemate against Bath City, the likes of Alex Wall and Luke Coulson came into the starting eleven alongside midfielder Luke Allen, who was making his first starting appearance since returning from injury.

And, it was Allen who created the first meaningful opportunity of the night when his second-minute strike was deflected behind for the first corner of the game. He’d go on to force another corner four minutes later after getting on the end of a Samir Carruthers pass. Unfortunately, goalkeeper Brad House was alert to tip Allen’s effort behind, as the Darts threatened to gain a firm grip on proceedings.

However, Paul Doswell’s side soon grew into the game but their tactics took a hit when Danny Wright picked up an injury and was unable to continue. Subsequently, he was swapped for Jason Prior after just 15 minutes, just as the hosts began to venture forward with more intent.

Josh Passley was starting to do battle with Sam Odaudu, and the tussle would be joined by James Roberts later in the game, as the Hawk duo seemed to gang up on the Dartford left-back. And, Passley’s efforts almost lead to the first goal of the night when his threatening cross towards Prior was intercepted by the superb block of Connor Essam (21).

However, seven minutes later saw the Darts take a deserved lead. And it was Luke Allen who started the move. His excellent pass found Samir Carruthers who, in turn found Alex Wall, who found the bottom corner with a delightful effort.

Havant responded immediately with two chances of their own within sixty seconds of each other. The first came in the 31st minute, when Prior managed to get on the end of Billy Clifford’s cross, only to head the ball straight at Archie Mair. The young goalkeeper was then called into action to save a low strike from the lively Muhammadu Faal (32).

Faal then saw another effort of his blocked well by Connor Essam (37), before Roberts failed to test Mair with a long-range effort (40).

As we reached the 45th minute, Paul Rooney was fouled by Connor Essam on the edge of the Dartford box, which earned the Dart a yellow card from referee Mr Callum Walchester. Thankfully, the free-kick was dealt with by the defensive wall.

It was as you were at the start of the second forty-five, as the hosts began on the front-foot from the start. Roberts managed to find an opening within seconds, but his curling drive flew straight into the safe arms of Archie Mair (46).

They then replaced Oscar Gobern with Charlie Ruff (55), who’s first piece of the action was to foul the excellent Jordan Wynter in the middle of the pitch!

However, with the Hawks pressing forward more often, the visitors launched an excellent attacking move which resulted in Sam Odaudu smashing the ball across the face of goal, where Luke Allen was on hand to roll it over the line to double his side’s lead and score his second goal of the season (59).

Alan Dowson responded soon after by introducing Keiran Murtagh for Samir Carruthers (61), before bringing on Pierre Fonkeu for Malachi Napa six minutes later. His final change in personnel would take place five minutes from the ninety, as Davide Rodari replaced Alex Wall.

Meanwhile, as we return to the action in the 63rd minute, we find Archie Mair at it again as he made a great save to keep the ball out following a Hawk corner (63), before Tom Bonner stepped in with a superb challenge to block another shot two minutes later.

Josh Passley then found the side-netting as the hosts continued to look dangerous (69), before they were eventually rewarded for their efforts. That aforementioned combination of Passley and Roberts did battle with Sam Odaudu once again and Mr Walchester unfairly judged that the Dartford youngster had fouled his man! Billy Clifford took the free-kick and Jake McCarthy managed to get on the end of it to poke the ball home (73).

Yet, just as the hosts thought they were back in the game, Alex Wall had other ideas. Dartford replied almost immediately via brilliant combination play between Keiran Murtagh and Luke Coulson. The latter then found Wall who did the rest to cap off a superb night for himself and his teammates (75).

The Hawks did try to cut the deficit once again but the Dartford defence remained virtually resolute, as everyone got behind the ball to defend the lead. The closest the hosts came was in the 88th minute when a corner forced a scramble in the six-yard box and Archie Mair remained alert to thwart Jake McCarthy’s late strike.

The result sees Dartford leapfrog their opponents into second place in the National League South table, equal on points with first-placed Ebbsfleet United, who they travel to on Boxing Day in what has the potential to be a bumper clash.

TEAMS

HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE: Brad House, Josh Passley, Joe Newton, Jake McCarthy (c), Paul Rooney, Billy Clifford, Jamie Collins, Oscar Gobern, Danny Wright, James Roberts, Muhammadu Faal.

SUBSTITUTES: Sam Magri, Jason Prior, Charlie Searle, Ethan Burnett, Charlie Ruff.

DARTFORD: Archie Mair, Jordan Wynter, Samir Carruthers, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Luke Coulson, Luke Allen, Alex Wall, Maxwell Statham, Sam Odaudu, Malachi Napa.

SUBSTITUTES: Kristian Campbell, Davide Rodari, Keiran Murtagh, Charlie Sheringham, Pierre Fonkeu.

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By Chris Palmer