Beavers hold league leaders to goalless draw
The Beavers take a point away from home against Havant & Waterlooville, to remain in third spot...
On what was a bitterly cold and wintery day down south, Hampton & Richmond Borough battled well to take a point against league leaders Havant & Waterlooville.
This was a huge contest in the National League South as the Beavers in third place faced a Hawks side four points ahead of the visitors at the top of the table, so a positive result was vital to take away from this heavyweight clash.
Both teams seemed up for the battle, but neither side created any clear-cut chances within the first half.
Hampton did well from the flanks at times early on and in just the fourth minute the Beavers tested the home side when Ben Wynter’s whipped in cross from the right nearly picked out Shaun Jeffers, however the ball was put behind by defender Jordan Rose for a corner.
A couple of fizzed in free kicks by Max Kretzschmar mid-way through the first 45 alerted the Hawks’ back line, but the Beavers couldn't quite get onto the end of the midfielder’s deliveries.
Neither goalkeeper was tested enough in the first half, although Havant’s number one Ryan Young did make his first save in the 33rd minute when Kretzschmar struck a shot from inside the box, after Bradley Hudson-Odoi did brilliantly to cut inside and create the chance. However, Jeffers was in an offside position before the shot drove towards goal.
Not much happened for the remainder of the half, in what was a fairly scrappy affair on occasions in such dismal conditions.
Just a few minutes into the second half and Brendan Kiernan had a half chance to take the lead for the Beavers when his cross-come-shot had to be dealt with by Hawks keeper Young, who did well to collect the ball considering how it curled towards him in the piercing winds.
Then in the 53rd minute, the woodwork was struck when Josh Casey’s delivery from the left came off the head of defender Ed Harris and hit the crossbar, with the ball eventually being cleared away by Havant for a corner.
Around five minute later, another wonderful chance fell for Hampton, this time to Charlie Wassmer – who returned to the side after finishing his three-match suspension – when his header was spilled into the net by keeper Young. However, the goal was controversially disallowed as the referee awarded the home side a free kick after he believed that there was a push inside the box.
Then just seconds after that, Havant & Waterlooville had their best chance to break the deadlock when a whipped in cross from the left by Rory Williams found Wes Fogden, whose powerful and accurate header was brilliantly saved by Beavers debutant Seny Dieng, who palmed the ball away from danger at full stretch.
A flurry of chances made the match come alive momentarily and lifted the 958 fans in attendance, who were in great voice throughout the game.
With around 20 minutes to go, after Bradley Hudson-Odoi did really well on the left flank to get the ball into the danger zone, a great chance fell to James Mulley on the edge of the area, but he scuffed his effort wide of the left-hand post.
A couple more chances came Hampton’s way, firstly when another curling cross by Ben Wynter flew towards Brendan Kiernan and pressurised the Hawks’ back line once again, however Kiernan was stood in an offside position. Then moments later, a venomous effort from the left foot of captain Josh Casey was well blocked for a corner.
Both teams continued to battle in the remaining moments of the match, with the Beavers looking to try and snatch a goal late on and with the home side seeming happy to settle for a point.
But in the end, after a well fought contest between two good footballing sides in the division, neither team could be separated so the points were shared.
The result means the Beavers remain in third spot, four points behind the Hawks with nine league matches remaining.
Next Tuesday sees Hampton face 18th placed Hungerford Town at the Beveree – a side who have won just once in their last six league matches and drew 2-2 the last time out against the Beavers back in September.