Millwall Through (Just)
Havant and Waterlooville lived their cup dream at Fratton Park Monday night, taking League One Millwall to the wire in a breathtaking 2-1 spectacular played out before almost six thousand supporters. A nervy opening saw the Hawks fall behind after five minutes when Chris Hackett`s right wing run ended with a rolling cross that Ben May easily guided past Shane Gore, but the goal released the hosts from their uncertainty, and a truly awe inspiring performance ensued.
Rocky Baptiste`s 56th minute equalizer from a Mo Harkin cross put the Lions on the back foot, and the Hawks stretched toward a winner with Millwall left second best for most of the second half. The visitors needed to find a miracle to survive the tie, and it came in the 71st minute when Alan Dunne`s 20 yard pile driver bent superbly to deny Gore at full stretch - putting Millwall into a second round tie with Bradford City.
The lineup for the biggest game in the Hawks` history remained unchanged from the side that comprehensively beat Welling 4-0 last weekend. Tom Jordan and Luke Byles formed the heart of the defence, with Michael Warner and Justin Gregory either side. Brett Poate, Jamie Collins, Tony Taggart and Mo Harkin stood left to right across the midfield and Shane Gore remained in goal as usual, with Rocky Baptiste and Richard Pacquette at the front.
There is no doubt the Hawks were dazzled by the Fratton Park floodlights and the sight of an audience twelve times the size of their league average this season as Millwall looked to assert their early lead. Chris Zebroski`s probing run was cut short by Warner, and his vague shot stopped by Gore before Luke Byles made a critical tackle on Chris Hackett that lead to a corner lofted back by Hackett and angled toward the Hawks keeper by Zebroski.
The Millwall duo would prove to be the side`s linchpin throughout the night. Backed by defender Richard Shaw and outstanding keeper Lenny Pidgeley, the four would run the show for the visitors and leave contributions from the rest of the side firmly in the shade.
Shortly after the Hawks managed their first forward surge, a ball poked behind the defence by Taggart for Pacquette to run on to offside, the hosts fell behind to an agonisingly soft goal worked from a right wing run by Hackett that skipped the ball up the line and in for Ben May to turn home from six yards amid bewildered Hawks defenders.
But the Hawks` nerves vanished with the goal and once Harkin burst away on the wing for a cross that Poate drilled low across the face of the Millwall net, the match opened up into an equally contested affair that removed the 56 place league gap between the sides.
Danny Senda drove a speculative shot well high after the visitors earned another corner, and Poate`s cross at the other end allowed Pacquette to pop a header toward the bar that Pidgeley had to stretch to collect.
Eleven minutes in, the game halted as an overexcited challenge on Pidgeley by Jordan ended with the keeper raking the Hawks` captain`s chest with his studs. Players from all over the pitch raced toward the incident and after the melee Jordan, Pacquette and May were all booked.
Fired up further, the Hawks continued to attack and Millwall dealt badly with a Taggart corner before a cross from Collins almost picked out Baptiste in the box as the striker went tumbling with his marker. Warner`s surging run then found Taggart, who spun on the spot to release a low drive that went wide by a yard with Pidgeley scrambling to cover.
The Lions continued to attack from the right wing, sending in crosses that were frequently sent back to the edge of the box for hard shots from May that sailed well over the bar. Two Hawks corners ensured the action was divided equally, and Pigeley flapped at and missed a deep cross from Harkin that almost went in by itself before bending away at the back post.
Zebroski broke through the Hawks defence again, needing Jordan to make a calm clearing tackle, and Derek McInnes followed with a great effort from just outside the box that Gore pushed away with a dive.
The Hawks came closest the to a first half equaliser in the 37th minute when Gregory`s diagonal drew Pidgeley away from his goal toward Pacquette, who managed to chip the ball round the keeper before trying to angle a volley home that hit row G on the Milton End terrace with Baptiste waiting unmarked on the penalty spot.
Two minutes from the break Poate lined up a well placed free kick on the corner of the box, and sent a screamer of a shot over the wall that Pidgeley managed to push over the bar at a stretch.
Hackett then picked up a yellow on the whistle after getting physical with Gregory while the pair tussled for the ball.
Havant and Waterlooville 0
An optimistic end to the first half left the Hawks in good stead for the opening of the second, and attacking the goal sat in front of the home support the side were spurred on even more to make the night their own.
May pulled back Jordan as he tried to reach a Harkin cross early on, and Poate sent in a corner that Taggart nodded back for Byles to thump at the Millwall keeper.
As chants expanded across the stands from the faithful Hawks regulars into the sizable Portsmouth support, drawn into the impressive standard of football on display, the ground erupted in the 56th minute when Baptiste tapped home his equaliser.
In a move that matched Millwall`s opener, Harkin did the hard work on the wing, bringing the ball past Zak Whitbread before slotting it behind the skidding defence for Baptiste to turn home with grateful ease.
The 5800 present sensed an upset on the cards, and Millwall`s 500 strong share went quiet as the hosts pushed on to enjoy a brilliant second half.
Baptiste`s low ball across the box found Taggart for another attempt sent wide by the midfielder, and McInnes and Maurice Ross consecutively cleared crosses away from Pacquette and Harkin.
Hackett picked out Dunne well with a free kick that the number 11 sent toward the top corner with a terrific header, but Gore managed to reach it with a diving save. Until the 71st minute though there was only one side in the game. Harkin laid his run back to Warner for an excellent cross that curled over the box perfectly for Pacquette to send a banging header toward goal. Little did Pidgeley know that his incredible save effectively won the match for Millwall as the side raced to the other end where Dunne latched onto a clearance and sent a crashing volley home from 20 yards that swerved in flight, bending away from Gore`s outstretched dive.
The Hawks responded by switching to a 3-4-3 formation, taking off Gregory and bringing on Dean Holdsworth to sit behind the front two.
Millwall, still under threat, went all out to kill the game off. A swift move saw Hackett slice the Hawks defence with a cross that Ross put in for Zebroski to hammer at Gore twice from close range, but the keeper kept the Hawks in it with an amazing double save.
The late introduction of Fiztroy Simpson and Craig Watkins did little to help the flagging Hawks, with players dead on their feet after an awe inspiring performance that woke thousands to the true splendour of non-league football in Havant, and sent Millwall back to London well and truly tested by FA Cup upstarts that made national newspaper headlines today for what was quite simply the performance of their lives.
By Rich Self
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