The Clarets sunk on the South Coast by Havant’s second half surge

Full time: Havant & Waterlooville 2-1 Chelmsford City

Havant & Waterlooville produced a second half comeback at Westleigh Park on Saturday afternoon, succumbing Chelmsford City to their first National League South defeat in 7 games.

After a cagey opening to the game which saw Havant debutants Beckford and Whittingham receive early bookings from referee Craig Scriven, the first presentable opportunity of the afternoon fell to Luke Jenkins. The centre back connected with Carruthers’ corner by producing a diving header, which went just wide of the post.

Havant responded well by creating their first chance of the game minutes later when Callum Kealy capitalised on indecisiveness amongst the Clarets’ backline by picking Jenkins’ pocket, and then quickly lobbing Henry Gray. Kealy’s lob got the beating of Gray who was marooned off his line, but was unable to beat the crossbar and bounced off the woodwork and away to safety, much to the relief of the watching Clarets defenders.

The Clarets reacted positively to this scare by taking the lead around 10 minutes later in the 35th minute, with Charlie Ruff netting the opener against his former club. Jermaine Francis registered his third assist in as many games to set up Ruff, getting the beating of Kai Innocent on the wing with some smart skill, before delivering a dangerous ball across goal which Ruff stabbed home.

City forced Hawks keeper Ross Worner into an impressive save before the half time break, with Samir Carruthers’ free kick being tipped behind for a corner by the former Claret.

Both sides created chances at the beginning of an end-to-end second half, which saw Clarets striker George Alexander make his debut after being introduced as a half time substitute. Havant came close to scoring early in the half when Beckford headed Roberts’ cross over the bar. Up the other end, Alexander produced a strong piece of play in the 70th minute to evade two Havant players in the corner, and cut the ball back to Carruthers on the edge of the penalty area, whose shot whistled over the crossbar.

Four minutes later, City paid the price for not doubling their lead when the hosts equalised through Ryan Seager’s finish. Seager neatly controlled Devante Stanley’s floated ball into the box, before finishing beyond Henry Gray by accurately finding the bottom corner in the 73rd minute.

Referee Scriven turned the game on its head in the 87th minute by awarding a penalty to the Hawks, after Luke Kealy went down under pressure in the penalty area from Luke Jenkins. Despite initially shaking his head when Kealy went to ground, a change of heart from Scriven saw him then point to the spot, allowing Jamie Roberts to step forward from 12-yards and slot the ball in the bottom corner of the net.

City weren’t able to salvage an equaliser in the final 10 minutes of proceedings, meaning Simpson’s side fell to a league defeat for the first time since the middle of December. Despite defeat on the South Coast, the Clarets remain 3rd in the league standings and return to action next weekend with a home clash versus Weymouth.

Havant & Waterlooville XI: Worner (GK), Stanley, Innocent, McNerney ©, Morgan, Seager, Jewitt-White, Kealy, Whittingham (Deacon 62’), Roberts (Donkor 90+5’), Beckford (Jebb 71’).

Unused substitutes: Spence, Bunga.

Yellow cards: Beckford, Whittingham, Roberts, Jewitt-White, McNerney.

Chelmsford City XI: Gray (GK); James, Jenkins, Winfield ©, Castiglione; Ochieng, Barbrook; Francis (Ody 54’), Ruff, Carruthers (Jones 81’); Hockey (Alexander 46’).

Unused substitutes: Brookes, Watts.

Yellow cards: Winfield, Gray, Barbrook, Ody.

Attendance: 804

Report by Jake Dixon

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