Late strike denies City deserved point against league leaders

Just when it looked as if Tom Smith’s stunning strike would earn City a deserved point against Havant & Waterlooville, the Vanarama National League South leaders struck back to return to the South Coast with all three points thanks to a 2-1 win at Twerton Park this afternoon. There was little to choose between the sides during the first half, although the contrast in styles was clear, City looking to pass the ball around whilst the Hawks favoured much more direct tactics. Chances were few and far between, City’s best saw an unmarked header from Miles Welch-Hayes that bounced over the bar, whilst Havant’s Fogden volleyed straight at Luke Southwood, However, the same player was not to be denied three minutes into the second half when Lewis set him up for a neat finish. City should have had a great chance to level soon afterwards when Andy Watkins was tripped just inside the box by Carter but the referee inexplicably awarded the visitors a free-kick, though he didn’t even speak to the Romans no.9 if he mistakenly thought he had dived. Hawks keeper Young did well to then keep out another Welch-Hayes header as City earned a succession of corners. Watkins was again fouled in the box in the follow up to the save but again the referee somehow missed the offence. With a goal lead to protect Havant’s physical approach was well-suited to keeping City at bay and that combined with going down easily when it suited them looked like seeing the game out. But with nine minutes left they didn’t deal with a Matt Richards ball into the box and Smith unleashed a unstoppable half-volley from 12 yards into the roof of the net. The scores were only level for three minutes though as rare Southwood error, failing to deal with a high free-kick into the area, gifted Lewis a simple header. This turned out to be the decisive moment and leaves City with two big away matches this week in which to keep their fading play-off hopes alive.