Havant & Waterlooville played their final game of the pre-season today against Dover Athletic. They arrived at the ground hoping to gain positive momentum for the season ahead and the Conference side wanted to do the exact same. Lee Bradbury named a strong side for the game, which seemed to play in the 4-4-2 diamond formation that Bradbury’s side have regularly used this pre-season, with Stock sitting deep and Adrian Clifton in an advanced role behind the striker. The team was Young (C); Strugnell; Dutton; Molineaux; Cummings; Stock; Donnelly; Ciardini; Patterson; Morgan.
The Hawks enjoyed plenty of early possession, earning two quick corners, both of which were taken short between Donnelly and Ciardini and ultimately wasted. After four minutes, a Hawks attack was broken down, leaving the Dover centre half free to play a long ball over the top of the Havant defence for Tom Murphy to run onto a expertly chip the helpless Ryan Young to make it 1-0 to the visitors. Four minutes later, Dover should have doubled their lead when the winger did really well to get in a cross from the right hand side only to see Ricky Miller divert the ball wide of the post when it was easier to score. The game continued like that for some time, with Dover dominating and Havant not having much to shout about.
The Hawks had their first chance after 16 minutes when Scott Donnelly played a great long ball for Matt Patterson who struck a volley first time with his right foot which looked destined for the top corner but Dover stopper, Brad Walker, just managed to dive and claw the ball just wide of the post. Just four minutes after that, the away side doubled their lead, with Brian Dutton’s short pass back being cut out and slotted in past Young by Stephan Payne. Again, Patterson looked like halving the deficit on 25 minutes when he let fly from the edge of the area only to be denied by the flying Walker.
With the first half nearing the close, Ricky Modeste curled a free kick towards the goal only to see it tipped over the bar by Young. The closest Havant came to scoring was on 41 minutes when Scott Donnelly’s corner was met by Marvin Morgan whose bullet header was miraculously tipped over by Walker. That signalled the close of the half, with Dover being by far the superior side. The introduction of Manny Month, Ben Swallow, Daniel Blanchett, Harry Medway and James Hayter made no difference and the second half was a very average performance from both sides, and almost nothing happened for the majority of the half until, in the 87th minute, a cross from the left hand side was not dealt with properly, leaving Nick Devericks free to smash home. As the full time whistle blew, the Hawks pre-season came to a somewhat disappointing end. However, with that being the only defeat of the pre-season, it is not really fair to say that it was an unsuccessful pre-season having had good results against sides like Eastleigh and Pompey. So, having seen the pre-season, the only thing there is to see is how well the Hawks can perform in the National League South this season!