‘Defending has hurt us. We threw it away’ Havant & Waterlooville now facing up to near-certain relegation after losing to Harrogate Town
Lee Bradbury accepts the Hawks need a miracle to avoid relegation following their 2-1 defeat against Harrogate Town at Westleigh Park.
With just four games left to play the Hawks are nine points adrift of safety in the Vanarama National League.
They also possess a decidedly worse goal difference than the two clubs above them.
Even if they win all four of their remaining games it still probably won’t be enough to save them.
To make matters worse, just when it looked like the home side could make up some ground, they shot themselves in the foot with some schoolboy defending.
The Hawks looked in good shape after Matt Paterson put them ahead with a 22nd-minute penalty.
Then three minutes before the break the hosts committed an awful defensive howler.
A mix up between Ed Harris and loanee goalkeeper Laurence Bilboe gifted Town the equaliser.
From that moment there only ever looked like being one winner as the visitors strengthened their play-off claims.
Manager Bradbury admitted defending has been a problem.
He said: ‘We got ourselves in front and then conceded two of the worst goals this season.
‘It was three points thrown away.
‘That just about sums up what has been our problem.
‘We are the second highest scorers at home and sixth highest in the league.
‘But we are second from bottom in defending and that hurts us.
‘Twice we switched off and when you do that at this level you get punished.
‘Once again we more than matched a team pushing for the play-offs but they were better in both boxes than us.’
Alfie Rutherford looked lively early on and only a superb save kept his fiercely struck rising drive out of the roof of the net.
It was a clumsy foul on Rutherford that gave the Hawks their penalty.
Calamity struck however on the stroke of half-time.
‘It was a disaster,’ added Bradbury.
‘Ed should have headed the ball away but got a call from the goalkeeper.
‘There was a mix up in translation and Ed is devastated with it.
‘In that situation we needed to be more dominant in our defending.
‘It has happened to us quite a lot where we have got ourselves into a good position and then thrown it away.’
Michael Woods gleefully rammed the ball in despite Bilboes' desperate attempt to recover.
With a strong breeze behind them Town dominated the second half.
Their inevitable winning goal arrived nine minutes from the end.
George Thompson was in the right position to head home.
The Hawks visit high-flying Solihull Moors next Saturday knowing another defeat could relegate them.
Hawks: Bilboe, Rose, Harris (Lewis 83), Cordner, Williams, Fogden (Jalloh 68), McNamara, Donovan, Paul, Rutherford, Paterson (Quigley 66)