AFC Sudbury undone in the second half by high-flying Hawks
AFC Sudbury 0 Havant & Waterlooville 2
AFC Sudbury were undone by two goals in a three-minute spell, during the last quarter of the game, against promotion-chasing Havant & Waterlooville at a freezing Wardale Williams Stadium.
Jamie Godbold’s side looked the more likely scorers, during the first period, but they were on the back foot for most of the second half.
And the Hawks’ pressure finally paid off in the 72nd minute, when left-back Rory Williams powered through uncontested to drill a low shot past Marcus Garnham.
The visitors swiftly doubled their lead, on 74 minutes, via a long-range thunderbolt from Bradley Tarbuck, to kill off the game.
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Havant & Waterlooville may have been riding high in third spot before kick-off, suffering just four league defeats all season, but they were second best to Sudbury during a keenly-contested first half.
The Hampshire side, who included former Bournemouth stalwarts James Hayter, Brian Stock and Wes Fogden in their starting line-up, did register the first goal attempt of the evening when ex-Cheltenham midfielder Theo Lewis aimed a long-range shot straight at Garnham.
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But Sudbury went on to create three excellent chances during the first 20 minutes, and were a shade unlucky not to be ahead at the break.
A sweeping move, featuring Liam Wales and recent signing Danny Crow, ended with Craig Parker peppering the target with a well-struck shot from the edge of the box. The ball whistled just the wrong side of the near upright.
Rob Eagle was homing in on goal in the 17th minute, chasing onto a slick through ball by Dylan Williams. Eagle’s final shot, which was heading for the far corner, was superbly beaten away by keeper Ryan Young.
The home side also threatened on the 20-minute mark. This time Crow, playing up front with Wales, connected with a shot on the turn that flew inches wide of the far post.
The Hawks, despite a good deal of possession, rarely threatened Garnham in the home goal, while at the other end, just three minutes before half-time, a cross by Eagle was hacked to safety by left-back Williams before Sudbury’s right-sided midfielder Williams could pounce.
Havant stepped up a gear at the start of the second period and Alfie Rutherford showed a good turn of pace, only to drag his shot across goal and wide. On 55 minutes, centre-half Ed Harris headed over the bar with Garnham again untroubled.
Sudbury had some defending to do from a series of corners, around the hour mark. Garnham saved from Hayter, and the hosts survived some ensuing pinball in their six-yard box.
Garnham did well to hold onto another goal-bound header by Harris, from another corner, but he was powerless to prevent Harris from breaking the deadlock with 18 minutes left, via an angled drive.
And a firecracker from Tarbuck, just two minutes later, put the Hawks 2-0 up and out of sight.
Hawks substitute Matthew Paterson rattled the bar late on, and headed home the rebound, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
AFC SUDBURY: Garnham, French, Austin, Williams, Henshaw, Tann (Carroll, 70), Crow (Baker, 68), Clarke (Bantick 78), Wales, Parker, Eagle. Unused subs: Dettmar, Mallardo, Bantick.
HAVANT: Young, Molyneaux, Williams, Stock, Woodford, Harris, Fogden (Barker, 63), Lewis, Hayter (Prior, 63), Rutherford (Paterson, 76), Tarbuck. Unused subs: Swallow, Ridge.