Havant & Waterlooville (0) 2 Bath City (1) 2 – Wednesday 26 October 2022 – Vanarama National League South – The Draper Tools Community Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Josh Passley’s equaliser with practically the last kick of the game denied City all three points at Havant & Waterlooville.
The full-back popped up with his first goal for the club in the 97th minute to secure a draw for the Hawks in a barnstorming contest.
Scott Wilson’s double, his second within two minutes of the hosts initially making it 1-1 through Mo Faal, looked to have given City a third straight win and Havant a third consecutive loss.
He missed a stoppage time chance of a hat-trick before Passley’s intervention provoked scenes of joy from the home faithful.
The aforementioned Havant right-back denied Wilson an opener on 16 minutes with a timely block when the forward latched on to Dan Hayfield’s low centre from the right.
Joe Newton’s marauding run from the back concluded with a dragged shot wide as both teams showed promise, justifying their positions in the top six.
Among some tidy football, City’s opener on 28 minutes was scruffy to say the least. Chris Lines’ corner was headed on by Kieran Parselle and Wilson did enough to poke past Ross Worner from a yard out.
A route one clearance from Joe Wright nearly led to a second just before half-time. Alex Fletcher managed to bring the goalkeeper’s punt forward under his spell, rounded Worner and crossed for Cody Cooke at the far post but a brave header away from Joe Oastler denied the striker a 13th of the campaign.
Ethan Burnett’s snap shot from 25 yards was gobbled up by Wright as City went into the interval ahead, deservedly through determination alone.
The second half saw the Hawks appear fired up and gave Jerry Gill’s men problems by winning a series of corners and piling the box with 6ft+ players.
Inevitably their 58th goal arrived from one. Billy Clifford’s delivery was headed towards goal by Oastler and Faal cleverly hooked the ball over his own shoulder under pressure from Kieran Parselle to draw the home side level.
Wright received treatment for injuring his shoulder in the goal but within 20 seconds of the game restarting, City stunned the hosts by retaking the lead.
Luke Spokes’ superb ball carved the backline open and Wilson stole in to cleverly nudge the ball over the diving Worner from 12 yards and make it 2-1.
Wright denied namesake Danny on 71 minutes when his downward header from Clifford’s free-kick needed the keeper to palm it away at full stretch to his left.
Cooke nodded Jacob Jones’ cross wide as City found spaces to exploit with Havant adopting a brave 4-2-4 formation to seek a way back into the game.
Four minutes of added time were signalled while Passley lay injured which forced a further delay, which proved key. In the third of these, a long diagonal was inadvertently flicked on by Lines to Jason Prior, but Wright did superbly well to dive at the feet of the experienced forward before Jack Batten could clear.
Wilson missed the chance of a hat-trick with the clock approaching 95 minutes. Fletcher and Hayfield worked wonders to escape from a tight space on the right before the latter’s low ball found Wilson six yards out and unmarked, but goalkeeper Worner performed heroics to spread himself and somehow keep it out.
It proved vital. In their next attack, Faal’s shot was tipped over by Wright leading to a corner with 21 of the 22 players inside the penalty area.
Clifford’s delivery was nodded on by Jake McCarthy to the unmarked Passley who slipped when shooting, but it had enough to beat the helpless Wright to notch his first goal since April 2019 and send the Draper Tools Community Stadium into delirium.
There was barely time to restart. Having lost their previous two home games to last minute goals, it was the opposite emotions for home boss Paul Doswell, while opposite number Gill collected his 50th draw in charge in unwanted fashion. Overall he could be proud of his side’s efforts in a pulsating clash with the final result fair on the balance of play, but gut-retching for the Romans in the circumstances.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Batten, Parselle (c), Fletcher, Hayfield, Cooke, Lines, Spokes (Dyer 90+4), Wilson, Jones. Subs not used: Morton, Frear, Clarke, Mannings.
Scorers: City – Wilson (28, 60); Havant – Faal (58), Passley (90+7)
City Bookings: Spokes (43), Fletcher (53)
Officials: D Lamport, J McRitchie, A Dunn