Maidenhead United let two-goal lead slip to draw against Havant & Waterlooville
Maidenhead United 2, Havant & Waterlooville 2
Maidenhead United allowed a two-goal lead to slip as Havant & Waterlooville came from behind to salvage a point at York Road with Ben Swallow’s sumptuous second half curler.
Havant, who visited the Magpies without long term injury absentee Adrian Clifton, might have won it late in the day but for two wonderful saves by Carl Pentney.
The Magpies, who welcomed back their skipper Alan Massey following suspension, looked to be headed for a first league win since December 1 when Ben Wright nodded in Josh Huggins’ right-wing cross in the ninth minute.
Dave Tarpey then ran onto Christian Smith’s towering header to bag his sixth goal in three games with a deflected strike that wrong-footed Ryan Young in the 21st minute.
Havant looked to be in for a hammering, and Wright went close to his second with a shot that deflected just wide of the post.
But Havant are looking to claw themselves away from the lower reaches of the National League South and managed to regroup towards the end of the first half.
Having rattled the post from a free-kick moments earlier, Scott Donnelly got the visitors back in contention with a stroked finish past Pentney from Brian Stock’s slipped pass in the 31st minute.
The visitors threatened a leveller before the break when Shamir Mullings’ low drive was kept out by Pentney, and the United keeper tipped Swallow’s drive over the bar and gathered in Jack Whatmough’s header in the final minutes of the half.
Wright tested Young with a dipping free-kick early in the second half and Jake Reid appeared to have his shirt tugged back as he attempted to race through on goal, but the referee Elliot Kaye wasn’t interested in the home side’s half-hearted appeals for a penalty.
Inman cleared crucially, when Mullings looked set to tee up a teammate for a tap-in, and Matt Paterson’s instinctive volley was blocked in the 59th minute, before Tarpey missed the chance to put the game to bed when his low shot across goal missed Young’s far post by a matter of inches.
Stock put his weight behind a volley from distance which Pentney gathered safely into his midriff, and the Maidenhead goal led a charmed life when Swallow collected Theo Lewis’ neat pass and rolled the ball past Pentney, but his shot rebounded back off the inside of the post in the 63th minute.
The visitors didn’t have to wait long for their leveller, which arrived a couple of minutes later when Young’s throw picked out Swallow close to the right touchline and, having cut inside Joe Gorman, the midfielder sent a wonderful, curling effort beyond the finger-tips of Pentney and into the far corner of the net.
The Magpies replied with a shot on the run from James Mulley, which Young tipped over for a corner, while Smith’s dominant first half display in the Magpies’ engine room was very nearly rewarded with a goal, but his snap-shot clipped the heels of Wright and went wide.
Havant hammered on the door in the final 15 minutes, but failed to break it down, thanks in the main to two moments of brilliance from Pentney.
In the 80th minute he got down well to tip substitute Nic Ciardini’s daisy-cutting drive around the post, and with four minutes to play he flung himself to his right to keep out Donnelly’s crisply hit free-kick.
United managed to hold on to register their second score draw in a row, but they’ve now picked up just four points from their last seven league matches, and still haven’t tasted victory in the league since their trip to Maidstone United on December 1.
Referee: Elliot Kaye
Maidenhead United: Pentney, Huggins, Gorman (Barratt 73), Smith, Massey (C), Inman, Tarpey, Mulley, Reid (Wiltshire 64), Wright (Nisbet 86), Pritchard. Subs not used: Olorunfemi, Peters.Havant & Waterlooville: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Stock, Whatmough, Hill, Swallow, Donnelly, Mullings, Paterson, Lewis (Ciardini 65). Subs not used: Dutton, Medway, Morgan, Thomson