Vital Football

Sutton Town 0 v 1 Hawks

Sutton Town 0 v 1 Hawks

Sutton Town 0 v 1 Hawks

The Hawks notched their first win of the season tonight at Gander Green Lane, beating hosts Sutton United by the only goal in a well contested match. The visitors went all out from the off to make up for Saturday`s opening day defeat but it took until the 53rd minute and a messy goalmouth scramble for the side to take the lead through Rocky Baptiste.

Hawks` Boss Ian Baird made two changes to Saturday`s side. Justin Gregory dropped back to fill injured Luke Byles`s place in defence, and Fitzroy Simpson started on the bench. In their place in central midfield Phil Warner and Jamie Collins gained their first starts of the season, with Tony Taggart and Mo Harkin outside them.

The visitors threatened from the off with three well placed free kicks in as many minutes, signalling the start of an oppressive opening. Sutton keeper Phil Wilson ably claimed the first two in the air, but Tom Jordan flicked the third on at the near post for Neil Sharp to force a save with a well angled header.

The Hawks pressed again, and Wilson raced well out of his area to leap over Richard Pacquette, managing just to head the ball clear as he clattered into the agile striker. Harkin came quickly up the wings for crosses, and it wasn`t until ten minutes into the game that Sutton mounted a proper attack when Steve Douglas head a cross wide of the post.

Ex-Hawk Michael Gordon made a misguided attempt to lob Shane Gore some minutes later, but Douglas showed more effort with a chance shot that forced the Hawks` keeper into a comfortable dive.

Sutton`s greatest threats came on the break and the side earned a corner after a last ditch tackle from Jordan diverted Carl Gibbs`s shot wide. Ryan Croxford through fired the return ball high over the goal.

United`s defence tightened as the half continued, and the Hawks` impressive opening faded as they found themselves with less and less time on the ball. Rocky Baptiste too often found himself salvaging long balls on the wing, leaving Jordan and Collins racing in to be beaten to his crosses by Wilson every time.

For Sutton, Gordon and Michael Johnson forced saves several times from Gore, one Johnson effort late in the half bringing the keeper forward to stop well with his legs, and at the break the hosts were suddenly looking the more likely to snatch an opening goal.

Half-time:
Sutton United 0
Havant and Waterlooville 0

But the second half brought a busier Hawks side back to the pitch and Mo Harkin`s 53rd minute corner lifted nicely across the box for Neil Sharp to head back and amid a scramble of legs on the line, Baptiste managed to nudge the ball over before Pacquette made sure.

Sharp then head off target from a Taggart free kick, but Sutton`s fast direct approach created the more dramatic football. When Croxford`s thunderous 20 yard strike deflected off a defender and foxed Gore it looked as though the hosts had found a quick equaliser, but the ball fizzed past the post.

John Scarborough`s header wide in the 73rd minute lead to a break allowing the introduction of Sutton`s other ex-Hawk, Peter Fear, who replaced striker Douglas. The hosts pushed forward with three up front but the Hawks made use of the extra midfield space with some surging runs from Pacquette.

Sharp`s clearance of a Sutton throw set Baptiste away and his through ball clipped off a defender letting substitute Craig Watkins through one on one with Wilson, who blocked well. A corner followed and Taggart blasted into bodies in the box before Sharp sent the rebound across the goal and wide.

Neil Lampton`s guiding touch sent a lightning bolt United corner goal ward and Gore only just managed to get hold of it as the hosts went all out for an equaliser in the last ten minutes. Hawks boss Baird responded by bringing off Baptiste and putting calming influence Simpson into the midfield, leaving Watkins alone at the front. The visitors quickly compacted into a nine-man defence, and did enough in the closing minutes to hold their hosts at bay, picking up their first three points of the season in the process.

By Rich Self



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Writer:
Date:Sunday October 22 2006
Time: 9:02PM

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