Braintree 3-1 Havant and Waterlooville: Hawks lose unbeaten record after penalty woe
HAWKS’ penalty misery continued as they surrendered the National League South’s last unbeaten league record.
Anthony Straker became the third Hawk to miss a spot-kick in 2019/20 as his side dominated possession but were beaten 3-1 by Braintree.
Boss Paul Doswell was forced into one change – 19-year-old ex-Winchester City centre half Joe Cook coming in for his debut in place of the injured Dean Beckwith.
The Hawks suffered double disappointment inside the opening 14 minutes – falling behind and losing their captain due to injury.
After Sam Magri’s close range shot had been turned against the bar by keeper Michael Johnson, Braintree took a fifth minute lead when Tom Richardson headed in Ade Cole’s cross.
Skipper Wes Fogden - Hawks’ August player of the month – then hobbled off to be replaced by Bradley Tarbuck.
Within three minutes of Tarbuck’s arrival, though, he had fired Hawks level – cutting in from the left wing and hitting a 20-yard low shot past a possibly unsighted Johnson.
Hawks poured forward after that, with Josh Taylor seeing one header hit the bar and his follow-up effort cleared off the line.
Both Jonah Ayunga and Roarie Deacon warmed Johnson’s hands with blistering shots, before Braintree regained the lead totally against the run of play five minutes before the interval.
A quick breakaway resulted in Alfie Cerulli playing Richardson through to round Ross Worner and fire into the roof of an empty net.
In time added on, Deacon was guilty of a horror miss. Left unmarked on the six-yard line with the goal at his mercy, he contrived to fire his shot straight against the one defender on the goalline.
The second half followed a similar pattern of Hawks enjoying the majority of possession, but chances were far fewer.
After half-time sub Danny Kedwell had volleyed wide at the far post, Hawks were awarded a spot-kick for a foul on Josh Taylor – only for left-back Straker’s poor left-foot effort in the 67th minute to be saved by Johnson diving to his right.
Hawks’ misery was completed in the 88th minute when Braintree broke to make it 3-1. Femi Akinwande was left in acres of space to scamper clear and score with a cool finish.