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Gutsy Magpies claim a valuable point
DORCHESTER TOWN 0 HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE 0
THE Magpies slugged it out in the mud at the Avenue Stadium to gain a valuable point against Havant & Waterlooville.
Despite being thin on numbers, Dorchester produced a gutsy display and did remarkably well to snuff out the Hawks’ forward line, which is considered one of the best in the division.
Nathan Walker and Neil Martin were particularly impressive at the back for the hosts, who would have won it had Ben Watson not squandered a great opportunity late on.
The Magpies made two changes to the side that stopped the rot against Dover Athletic last time out, with Harrison Bell and debutant Danny Way coming in for the suspended Jake Smeeton and Jamie Gleeson, who missed out through a stomach bug.
There were also a couple of surprises on the bench where former Torquay striker Ray Spear and ex-Bridport midfielder Dan Peart joined Jason Matthews, Calvin Brooks and Sam Malsom, who was returning from a hamstring injury.
Defender Charlie Clough continued up front alongside Watson while skipper Mark Jermyn joined Ashley Nicholls in the centre of the midfield.
That single-goal victory over Dover ended a winless run of eight games and the home faithful were clearly keen for the upturn to continue.
However, with the squad stretched to the limit, the pitch cut to shreds following the recent adverse weather, and Havant having won the last meeting between the two sides 4-0, a tough game was always on the cards.
Dorchester enjoyed the territorial advantage in the early exchanges, but it was the Hawks that fashioned the first real opening when Alex Grant ghosted in completely un-marked at a corner, only to see his volley blocked by team-mate Ollie Palmer just inside the six-yard box.
Palmer, who is currently attracting interest from Football League clubs, then flashed a dangerous cross along the six-yard box that had to be dealt with, before Jesse Kew-ley-Graham tested Alan Walker-Harris with a tame strike from 25 yards.
Due to the conditions not much football was being played but the Magpies did string a nice move together on 20 minutes when Way and Martin combined down the left to find Watson in the box. He then teed up Jermyn, whose effort flew over the bar via a deflection.
That seemed to give Dorchester a bit more belief, and moments later they went close to breaking the deadlock when Arran Pugh headed narrowly wide after a fine delivery from Martin from a free-kick.
The game remained fairly even but it was the Magpies that continued asking the questions with Clark Masters rushing off his line and denying Watson, before Jermyn and Way both saw shots blocked on the follow up.
A nervous moment for Pugh on 35 minutes then presented the ball to Arthur who broke away down the right.
The powerful forward beat Walker for pace to get into the box but his attempted cross was poor and the danger petered out. Apart from that brief scare though, the hosts remained solid and went on to finish the half the better side with Nick Crittenden sending over a shot on the stretch, and Nicholls finding the hands of Masters with a looping header.
The Hawks made a switch at the break with forward Sahr Kabba replacing midfielder Perry Ryan and the new arrival nearly made an instant impact, only to be denied by a fine block from Pugh.
Way then volleyed just wide following a half-cleared corner at the other end before Walker made another key intervention to deny Kabba, as the contest began to open up.
Suddenly Havant were now looking the more threatening side but they were unable to make the pressure count with Christian Nanetti firing over from 15 yards when he really should have played in a team-mate.
Dorchester’s defence continued to stand tall and they nearly caught the Hawks on the break when Malsom broke away following an error in judgment by Jake Newton.
The winger, who had replaced Way on 65 minutes, fired the ball across the face of the box but unfortunately it ran wide of the far post and just beyond the onrushing Crittenden.
Malsom was certainly causing problems though and with 11 minutes remaining he set up a golden opportunity for Watson after racing on to a defence-splitting pass from Nicholls.
The former Exeter City forward looked in prime position to score but unfortunately sent his effort straight at Masters to the disappointment of the Magpies’ faithful.
Palmer then headed over a corner at the near post for Havant, his only meaningful effort of the game, before Malsom brought proceedings to a close with a shot from distance that was comfortably saved.
A point apiece was a fair reflection of the game but the Magpies will feel they could have had all three after creating the better chances.
Magpies: Walker-Harris, Bell, Martin, Pugh, Walker, Jermyn, Crittenden, Nicholls, Watson, Clough, Way (Malsom 65). Subs not used: Matthews, Brooks, Spear, Peart.
Havant: Masters, Newton, Grant, Hutchinson, Harris, Strugnell, Nanetti, Ryan (Kabba 46), Palmer, Kewley-Graham, Arthur (Ramsey 65). Subs not used: Hinshelwood, Jones, Pearce.