Westleigh Park, Havant
MATCH ABANDONED (62 MINUTES)
Football, then. 90 minutes comprised of two 45 minute halves. Pah, why bother, when 45 + 17 is nearly as much fun. In some ways, attending an abandoned game can be quite frustrating, especially for the away side who have to travel again but, purely, from a spectating standpoint, this afternoon’s 62 minutes were good value for the £12 in.
You know, we’ve been waiting for an opportunity for many months now to be able to watch football without garbing up like an Eskimo with hypothermia and when the warm finally came out of hiding, it’s a shame he had to bring his unpopular mate, rain, as his ‘plus one’ to the party, just because he was feeling sorry for it.
Queuing for half-time tea presented little in the way of fun (more liquid on my face than eventually in it), but all that went on around it just continued the sense of buoyancy that currently envelops we Hawks. Bouncing back from a rare defeat the previous weekend at Maidenhead, a further away game at Boreham Wood on the Tuesday saw a tough 2-1 win grabbed in the 87th minute, our new gigantic Argentine centre-half Juan Cruz Gotta popping up with the goods.
Then here, despite the grass struggling to process the incessant rain, we put in a first half performance that belied the conditions. In these sort of games, it is difficult to put together runs and passing moves as the ball tends to get a little lodged just as the momentum picks up. Despite this, Christian Nanetti didn’t appear to be changing his game much and was creating problems down the right flank. At the times the ball did stick, it seemed someone else from our ranks would be in the right place to limit the potential damage.
We adapted to the conditions like a squirrel to tree climbing while Dover took to it like an owl to kayaking. They did not appear to have the physical wherewithal, or indeed the interest, as the ball spent the majority of its paddling time in their half. Ollie Palmer scored a typical striker’s goal, heading in neatly on the edge of the six yard box from a pin-point Steve Ramsay free-kick after twenty minutes and we descended like Niagara upon them throughout.
We were surprised going into half-time, not so much about not being further ahead (although our dominance might have warranted it), but as we walked along the side terrace, about how much water was sitting on the surface of the pitch. Had you thrown a rubber duck on at the top of our ground’s slight slope, it may well have merrily bobbed along from one end to the other, unimpeded by divotry.
Looking at it objectively, we knew it was always going to be hard to get another 45 minutes out, considering the rain was continuing to fall, but the referee appeared game to completing the, err, game. However, the consensus on the terrace was that all it might take would be one mistimed challenge and around the hour mark, Dover’s Steve Thomson tested the theory, upending Perry Ryan as though he were a metaphorical apple cart. Perry being a bit of a hot head reacted with some distain before eventually collapsing to the turf. Thus Thomson was sent off, as was Pezza, shown the rouge rejoinder whilst he was being stretchered off.
During the subsequent melee, a further Dover indiscretion apparently went on – not that one could make much out through the cluster of sodden, angry bodies – and Lloyd Harrington also got his marching orders. Not long after so did the crowd, as after a short discussion with the managers, three loud parps were heard from the whistle. Nothing more to see here. Still, for the disappointment that a virtually guaranteed three points playing ten versus nine and a goal to the good, there was plenty of incident and lots to admire in the Hawk performance.
I’ll take that and besides, VFM or not, ticket stubs remain valid for the re-arranged game to take place this following Tuesday, so we can do it all again at no extra entry cost. Hopefully we’ll witness similar performances from both sides in drier circumstances.