BY LAURA HOWARD
Hampton and Richmond will be looking to put FA Cup woes behind them with a return to form in the league as they travel to bottom-ranked Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday.
Both teams enter the match out of form, but based on recent results it is ‘The Hawks’ who look the more improbable winners. They enter the match with just one win to their name this season, a seven-goal thriller that saw them defeat Yeovil Town 4-3, and only five points from 10 games.
The Beavers find themselves just three places above relegation candidates, Havant, and will see a trip to the south coast as an opportunity to propel themselves up the table.
The Hampton & Richmond defence will face a test to this ambition in the form of attacking partnership Muhammed Faal and Callum Kealy. Where Havant have had success this season, the duo will not be found far from it.
Between them they have scored nine goals this season, both registering on goalscoring charts, with Faal boasting a tally of five goals and Keely sitting just below on four.
At the other end, the Beavers will certainly fancy their own chances against the league’s leakiest defence, Havant having conceded 21 goals already this season.
If Hampton are to come away with the three points, however, they will have to buck the trend of recent encounters.
Hampton & Richmond have not won in their last 10 matches against ‘The Hawks’, recording four draws and six losses. Their last trip to Westleigh Park, and Mel Gwinnett’s only encounter as Beavers’ manager with Havant, ended in a 1-1 draw, the Hampton goal courtesy of Dean Inman.
Yet the Beavers must go all the way back to 2011 to find their last victory against the Portsmouth-based side, when a brace from Lawrence Yaku helped secure a 2-1 win.
Such a record is made less damning when contextualised by the fact ‘The Hawks’ only earnt promotion to the National League South in 2018.
Aside from promotion, Havant & Waterlooville had their moment of glory when they reached the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in the 2007/08 season. Having defeated the likes of Notts County and Swansea City, ‘The Hawks’ were drawn away to Liverpool.
As underdogs, in front of a hostile Anfield crowd, Havant twice found themselves in the lead but ultimately succumbed to a 5-2 defeat after their moment in the spotlight.
For the Beavers, the opportunity is there to take advantage of an out-of-form Havant and put themselves back on track after the disappointment of their trip to Lewes.
They will need to be at their best to quell the attacking threat of Faal and Kealy, and combat the new manager bounce that Steve King brings, but have every chance of overcoming their poor record against ‘The Hawks’ should they manage to do so.