A SUPERB Ben Wright free-kick was not enough for Basingstoke Town to claim silverware as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Havant & Waterlooville in the Hampshire Senior Cup final.

Town put up a valiant effort against their higher league opponents but a second-half goal from substitute Alfie Rutherford was the difference between the two sides at Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium.

Martin Kuhl’s side nearly had the lead after a minute when Wright’s effort from the edge of the box was fumbled into the path of Michael Atkinson by Hawks keeper Ben Dudzinski, allowing the Basingstoke man to poke to the ball into the net.

But the celebrations were short lived as the linesman raised his flag for offside.

The Dragons were dominating the play in the opening 10 minutes, with Wright and Yvan Jourdan causing the Havant defence all sorts of problems, and when the pair linked up to set Jourdan through on goal, the slightest touch from Dudzinski managed to tip the ball away for a corner.

However, despite Town having most of the possession in the first 30 minutes, it was Havant to strike first.

Chris Paul masterfully threaded the ball through the town defence to Josh Huggins, who delicately dinked the ball past Tom McGill into the left-hand corner of the net.

It took until a minute into stoppage time of the first-half for Basingstoke to draw level. A central free-kick on the edge of the box was curled over the wall and out of the reach of Dudzinski by Wright.

Town started the second period aggressively looking to take the lead, when on 49 minutes Adam Everiss' rocket shot from 25 yards went inches over the bar.

Havant’s double half-time substitution of Andreas Robinson and Rutherford were starting to create gaps in the Dragons defence.

McGill became increasingly busy in the second-half, pulling off a string of top class saves to keep Town in the game.

But, on 84 minutes, a deep free-kick from just inside Basingstoke’s half found Rutherford, whose header beat the on-rushing McGill to allow the Hawks to regain the lead.

Town looked for an instant reply when Sam Smart cut the ball back to substitute Harry Pearse, who with his first touch had a shot cleared off the line.

With five minutes added time, Town looked to apply the pressure, but it was Havant who nearly extended the lead, when Rutherford was set free down the right and his looping shot went over McGill, hit the post and bounced on the line before being cleared to safety.

Town will now turn their attention back to league action when they host Taunton at the Camrose on Saturday.