Havant have dropped to fourth place in the South League after a spate of defeats – weekend losses to table topping Oxted and Team Bath ending the club’s faint title prospects.
A tenth minute goal by Charlie Stubbings gave Havant a half-time lead at Oxted, but Atiq Arshad was twice yellow carded and Manuel Silvetti also sin-binned (alongside Oxted’s Chris Porter) leaving the visitors short on the field.
Chris Webster levelled the scores shortly after half-time and later gave Oxted the lead before Jordan Turnbull wrapped things up at 3-1.
Fareham’s Scott Rawlings scored the only goal as Team Bath nicked a 1-0 win at the College, where Stubbings struck the post from a wasted Havant penalty stroke.
Head coach Ben Barnes has slammed England Hockey administrators for the rescheduling of the South League fixture list that sent Fareham to Bath and Sevenoaks on consecutive days – over 275 miles spent on the motorways inside 24 hours.
To compound the agony, Fareham lost 5-1 to Team Bath and then 7-1 at Sevenoaks – results which have heightened the likelihood of them being relegated at the end of the season.
Even though there are still four weekends of the season left, Fareham’s Storm Caira postponed fixture at Bath University (February 9) was hurriedly rearranged just 24 hours before their scheduled visit to Sevenoaks.
Barnes [above] described it as “a criminal fixture list that did us no favours. England Hockey should be ashamed of themselves.
“It was a tough weekend, not only for the players, but also the umpires and technical officials, with everyone expected to drop everything. It needs a rethink.”
Fareham have another double facing them this weekend with Canterbury (Saturday) and Southgate (Sunday) due to visit Henry Cort for 1.30pm push backs.
Fareham found themselves two-down inside ten minute at Bath, but cut the students’ lead to 3-1 when Chris Davey scored for the visitors.
But two Bath goals inside 90 seconds ended any prospect Fareham had of getting back into the game, Scott Rawlings scoring his side’s 5-1 as his elder brothers Danny and James looked helplessly on.
Play-off chasing Sevenoaks put six goals past Fareham without reply back in the autumn and looked set for a potential massacre when they led 5-0 at half-time before running out 7-1 winners. Davey again scored Fareham’s consolation goal.
“Sevenoaks were playing their only game of the weekend, so were obviously much fresher. Playing back to back games after long journeys took its toll on us. They were sharper and we looked tired,” Barnes added.
“Both Bath and Sevenoaks finished far better than us. We struggled to contain penalty corners both days and not score our own.”
George Harris turned the clock back with a vintage display of goalkeeping which inspired Winchester to a 2-1 win over promotion chasing Indian Gymkhana, arguably the season’s biggest South League Premier Division upset.
The Winchester player/coach, who had planned to retire when he left Fareham two seasons ago, produced a string of outstanding saves, particularly in the second half.
The victory at Kings’ edged Winchester off the foot of the table on goal difference above West Hampstead, whom they face in a crucial relegation showdown in London on Saturday.
The pair occupy the bottom two places on the log, each with 13 points from 18 games, with Winchester having a three-goal difference advantage.
Both sides started positively but the brilliant close skills of the visitors began to bear fruit with early penalty corners. With Alex Idoine, a penalty corner specialist with a mighty 45 goals in 17 games in their ranks, Gymkhana might have been expected to make hay with these opportunities, but, in a theme that would run throughout the game, Winchester's defence dealt with the danger.
However, it was a Gymkhana open play goal from Pravinder Hanspal that broke the deadlock on 15 minutes, benefitting from a stunning piece of skill from his teammate provider deep in Winchester's left flank.
Having suffered a 7-0 defeat in the reverse fixture, Winchester might have accepted their fate, but their work-rate was tireless, much of the play coming through skipper Kieran Malloy taking the ball with his back to the opposition goal under great pressure but distributing freely.
Winchester were also pleased to have Adam Tollefsen and Ben Francis back in their squad after long absences, plus U18 debutant Josh Fiske, all of whom had strong positive influences on the performance.
Mark Maunsell had a fierce strike well saved just ahead of half time which added to player/coach George Harris's rousing mid-game appeal [passages from Churchill and Henry V at Agincourt flowed] to believe that this game was there for the winning.
Both sides had early second half chances Olly Lander forcing a good save from the Gymkhana keeper, but ten minutes in, Winchester's first penalty corner bore fruit as a clever disguised move to the left found Ben Hibberd, who slid the ball to the far post for Todd Hutcheson to divert home to draw level.
What then followed was one of the great goalkeeping performances in recent Winchester's history as Harris denied a relentless flurry of penalty corners and open play opportunities from the urgent visitors.
One was a breath-taking dive high to his left to divert from the top corner, but as important as the three of four outstanding saves made was his consistency in the large number of straightforward smother and clear type saves, that often elude keepers and lead to frustrating goals. The one time he was unable to reach a goal bound strike, Harry Trussler was on hand to divert round the post.
With 15 minutes remaining, Hibberd sent in a dangerous cross from the base line and after an initial two saves from the Gymkhana keeper, Nick Clark lifted the ball into the net to take a 2-1 lead.
The visitors had a further two penalty corners, but the game's pattern endured, Gymkhana totalling in excess of ten such corners in the game without return.
A bleak National League afternoon saw South League pair Havant and Fareham both beaten and Chichester lose 5-4 to Old Loughtonians having led their Essex based Eastern Conference rivals 3-2 at half-time.
Havant snatched a tenth minute lead through Charlie Stubbings at Oxted, but the unbeaten South leaders, now seven points clear at the top, hit back to win 3-1.
Basement boys Fareham found themselves two down inside ten minutes at Team Bath, with Chris Davey's consolation goal their only reward from a 5-1 beating.
Chichester led 3-2 at the break, but lost 5-4 to Old Loughtonians.
All three clubs are in Sunday action, Havant v Team Bath (12.30), Fareham at Sevenoaks and Chichester at home to Bedford.
But at least Trojans ladies won 2-0 at St Albans with a goal in each half by Amy Sheehan and Martha Taylor.
Fareham head west then east in an arduous 275-mile trawl for precious South League survival points this weekend - to Team Bath on Saturday, then high riding Sevenoaks 24 hours later.
Ben Barnes and his group are in desperate need of a win (or two) to shave off the six points that currently separates them from the nearest survival bar. They have only played once this storm-hit calendar year, losing 6-2 at home to runaway leaders Oxted.
It's a hectic weekend across the board locally, with Havant and Eastern Conference promotion chasing Chichester playing double bankers.
Havant visit unbeaten leaders Oxted on Saturday before hosting Team Bath in a Sunday lunchtime 12.30 push back.
Chichester need to make home advantage count if they are to cut Wapping's lead in the EC. Chi entertain Old Loughtonians then Bedford in 1.30pm starts at the College.
Winchester ladies are closing in on a potential third place finish in South Women’s League Division 3B after a 5-1 win over lowly Hailsham, their third successive victory and a fourth in the past five games.
They are only two points behind Havant, who went down 4-2 to title chasing Old Georgians and are now out of the promotion frame.
Southampton’s three goals in the 3-0 win over Barnes at the Sports Centre all came in the second half, with a Sue Merry deflection breaking the deadlock.
Zoe Stride set up Maddie Larkin to double Southampton’s lead before Stride rounded off the scoring from a penalty stroke.
Havant’s hopes of cutting the gap on National South Division 1 leaders Oxted were blown away on a day when Storm Dennis battered England.
A victory over lowly Oxford at Havant College would have seen Havant move to within a point of the table-toppers. But they threw away a 3-1 lead to lose a remarkable encounter 6-5 - only their second league defeat in 12 games this season.
Havant took a fourth minute lead through Manuel Silvetti’s reverse shot. Polish international goalkeeper Maciej Pacanowski saved from a penalty corner shortly after, but was beaten when corner specialist Jack Biggs slammed a drag flick past him for an Oxford equaliser.
Pacanowski was kept busy thereafter, only for Havant to retake the lead - Silvetti again on target in a counter attack on 19 minutes.
Charlie Stubbings increased the hosts’ lead four minutes later. Winning the ball on the halfway line by catching a defender in possession, he surged forward before rounding keeper Chris Price to score.
The visitors were in no mood to capitulate, Ted Bennett pulling a goal back after a penalty corner save from Pacanowski fell to his open stick. Andy Watts then equalised from another rebound from a penalty corner.
Havant were back in front (4-3) in the third quarter with Stubbings setting up Jamie Whitehouse for a rasping shot across in the 45th minute.
Briggs made it 4-4 on 52 minutes, converting a penalty, before Freddie Smith put Hawks ahead for the first time.
It was Havant’s turn to level on 58 minutes with possibly the best goal of the game.
From a very narrow angle, having been forced wide, Atiq Arshad sent a powerful reverse shot past Smith.
Hawks scored the winner just two minutes later after a speculative cross from the right wing was deflected to the unmarked Edward Tristem.
Great Britain and England Hockey have mixed emotions in reporting that former Trojans starlet Alex Danson-Bennett has decided to retire from hockey.
As has been widely documented, Alex was incredibly unfortunate to suffer a mild traumatic brain injury whilst on holiday in Kenya in late 2018. Despite a Herculean effort on her part, it has not been possible for her to get back to playing for her country. In addition, with significant changes in her personal life she has chosen to hang up her stick, and Great Britain & England Hockey support her unequivocally in that decision.
Alex said: "After a long 18 months but a fabulous 18 years in the sport, it's the right time for me to retire.
"It's been the most incredible journey I could have asked for, but a lot has changed. My head injury has been life-changing, also in terms of my perspective and things that have happened within my family. Throughout my career I've been 100% immersed in being an athlete, but my priorities are different now. All of that means it's the right time.
"I've known over the last couple of weeks that it was a decision I needed to come to. It's difficult because this has been my life. It'll be strange moving into something new, but I'm totally thankful and content. I have zero regrets about the way I've lived my career.
"Hockey has always been my priority, but I've come to that stage where I can't do that and it wouldn't be fair to the team. Your family are everything, there are many factors that have led to this decision. The opportunity to spend more time with my family is a gift and I look at it that way.
"Every single session in my career meant something to me, so too the people I played with, the coaches, the staff, I just wouldn't change a thing. The people I've been around have made my career, from my PE teacher who got me into the game, my mum and dad who supported me, my first team at Alton Hockey Club. I'm privileged to be ending a career in a position where I feel happy. I'm not sad, I'm really happy.
"Now, I will be the number one supporter of the team, I'd love to be in Tokyo watching, I just need to convince my husband [Alex Bennett, the former Fareham and Winchester front man]! I came back to the squad because I believe they are a winning team. I'm sad not to be on the pitch but I will always feel part of it."
The 34-year-old is a true giant of the game, not just for her achievements as an athlete but also for the way she conducts herself off the pitch. It is no exaggeration to say she embodies all that is good about hockey; a spirited individual who puts the best interests of the team first.
Performance Director Ed Barney said: “On behalf of everyone at Great Britain and England Hockey, we would like to send our very best wishes to Alex. She has been an inspirational figure to all those who have worked with her, to those who have had the fortune to play with her and to many who have watched her exhilarating performances.
“Alex is a truly special person. It is impossible to find the right words to reflect how fortunate we have been to have Alex as part of our sport. We will miss her hugely both on and off the pitch. Having spoken with Alex, we know that she has made an incredibly difficult decision, but one that is right for her. Her achievements in the sport should be an incredible source of pride for her and her family and a motivation to others.”
Alex is Great Britain and England women’s all-time joint leading scorer with 115 goals in 306 appearances. She was joint top scorer in Rio 2016 as GB’s women won an historic gold medal and earned bronze at the London 2012 Olympics. She won a senior international medal for ten consecutive years from 2009 onwards, including European gold, Commonwealth silver and World Cup bronze among many others. At club level, she played for Clifton Robinsons, Reading, Slough, Trojans and Alton, while she also started an Academy in her name to introduce the sport to young children.
One of the leading figures in British women’s sport, in 2016 she was awarded an MBE for services to hockey, and a year later she was voted captain of the Great Britain and England women by her teammates. Nominated four times for FIH World player of the year, her final game was in front of a 10,000 home crowd in London at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.
Great Britain and England Hockey will formally mark Alex’s incredible career in their FIH Hockey Pro League home game against Argentina at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday 16 May. With a capacity of up to 14,800, it will be a great moment to recognise Alex’s service to the sport.
Winchester are back on the South League Premier Division 1 basement after a 5-2 defeat by Guildford left them three points adrift at the bottom.
West Hampstead pulling off a surprise 3-2 win over Oxford University didn’t help Winchester’s cause.
A brace from Ross Ferguson, taking his season’s tally to 24, and a goal from Rowledge cricketer Sam Plater helped Guildford to their win. Kent Langridge and Luke Whitmore replied.
Indian Gymkhana hot shot Alex Odoine fired Winchester a warning - the Premier Division title chasers visit Kings on Saturday, 2pm – with a hat-trick in Trojans’ 4-2 defeat. Dan Ferrier and Colin French responded.
Bournemouth were blown away – not by scheduled visitors Woking, but by Storm Dennis which caused the Chapel Gate Premier Division 2 West match to be postponed.
Andy Pett’s two goals for Basingstoke (4-3 winners over Oxted II) took his tally for the season to 31. Liphook & Ripsley cricket ace Grant Rouse was also on target.
England U18 hopeful Rory Buckeridge was on target for Fareham II, who lost 3-1 to Barnes.
Cita Haines has made her goalscoring mark in only her second game for Fareham ladies since joining the South Women’s League Division 3B leaders from Trojans.
She struck twice as Fareham came from behind to beat Lewes 3-1 and so maintain their slender one-point lead over Old Georgians, whose visit to Henry Cort on Saturday week (February 29) promises to be a title decider.
While Fareham were winning in East Sussex, OGs trimmed Havant 4-2 to record a seventh straight win.
Fareham trailed to a 16th minute goal by Laura Molloy – with coach Steve Lemon conceding: “Lewes could have been three-up by the time we scored and but for a great save by Jilly Tovey and a goal-line clearance by Jo Faulkner, they would have been.
“For the second week running we scored twice in quick succession, taking our chances when it really mattered. We had the better of the second half and looked more comfortable once we’d scored our third.”
Fareham struck twice in 90 game defining seconds before half-time, initially through Haines and then Vicky Field, who took the visitors into a 2-1 interval lead.
Haines settled it with her second and Fareham’s third goal midway through the second half.
“We’ve probably played better in recent matches, but wins at this stage of the season are priceless. Now we’ve got a week off before OGs visit us. There is a lot of work to be done in training and I intend to make sure we’re fully prepared,” Lemon added.
Talented teen Alex Pendle (above, pictured by Neil Marshall) scored twice as Chichester transformed a 3-1 deficit into a thrilling 4-3 victory over Spencer - a result which keeps the pressure firmly on Eastern Conference leaders Wapping.
Chichester drew first blood in the seven-goal thriller when Alex Baxter struck in the seventh minute, but the lead was short lived with a Kyle Good equaliser almost straight from the restart.
When Will Devitt and Neil Hamilton struck to extend Spencer's lead to 3-1, Chichester appeared in trouble, but Joe Bugden clawed one back before half-time.
Pendle's second half goals - in the 38th (penalty corner) and 47th minutes - won it for Chichester, who must make full advantage of two home games this weekend v Old Loughtonians (Saturday) and Bedford (Sunday) to put the squeeze on Wapping.
Fareham are six points adrift at the England Hockey League South Division 1 basement after their scheduled home match with Southgate was washed out and results elsewhere went against them.
With high Storm Dennis winds still a factor and Fareham's pitch at Henry Cort perched precariously above the M27 corridor, the club took the sensible decision to call off the Sunday lunchtime match.
But while they cut frustrated figures, Fareham sank deeper into the relegation mire as Canterbury (3-1 winners at Teddington) and Oxford Hawks (6-5 victors in an 11-goal thriller at Havant) snatched vital away victories.
Fareham now face a demanding double banker away-day double next weekend, visiting Team Bath on Saturday and Sevenoaks in North Kent 24 hours later.
A second half brace by Charlie Cooper [pictured] earned Bournemouth a 2-0 win at Slough – but just as important was the earlier penalty stroke save by Bayley Chatwin that enabled the Lions to keep a clean sheet.
After a goal-less first half in which Bournemouth wasted three good opportunities, Slough fluffed a gilt edged opportunity to take the lead – Chatwin diving low to his right to save a stroke.
Bournemouth made some tactical changes and eventually took the lead themselves, Ross Hattemore winning a penalty corner which was fired low to the right by Conor Moors to Cooper, who got the final touch.
Chatwin was called upon to make more key saves before Cooper sealed the victory with a reverse stick shot.
The win left Bournemouth fifth in the Premier 2 West table, but after the previous week’s 2-1 defeat at Tulse Hill & Dulwich with ground to make up if they are to break into the promotion frame.
Storm Ciara caused the cancellation of today's National League hockey matches involving Chichester, Fareham and Havant.
Chichester had been due to host Eastern Conference rivals Old Loughtonians, with Fareham travelling to Team Bath and Havant to Oxted for a top of the table South Division showdown.
Trojans ladies played yesterday and were held 1-1 by Exeter-based Isca, Martha Taylor converting an early penalty corner for the visitors, who lie third from bottom in the log.
A 2-1 win over second placed Sevenoaks has put Havant firmly in the National Division Souh promotion frame and, if they happen to win at table topping Oxted on Sunday, a chance of winning the championship itself.
They'll travel the M25 eastbound four points in arrears of Oxted, who extended their 11-match unbeaten start with a 6-2 mauling of Fareham. But if they win that lead will be cut to a solitary point.
Havant took the lead two minutes before the break against Sevenoaks when Atiq Arshad moved his way up the right wing and crossed the ball into the circle where Michael Deller-Merrick deflected the ball past the helpless Richard Potton in the visitors goal.
Havant started the second half strongly creating a couple of half chances, but it was Sevenoaks who scored through Craig Wild from their third penalty corner in the 41st minute to level the scores.
Havant's winner came just after the hour mark, soon after Sevenoaks' Ed Matts was sin binned for a poor tackle. With the numerical advantage Havant won their second penalty corner of the game two minutes later, and Federico Bertoni made no mistake with a powerful flick into the roof of the goal.
Fareham ladies sank Haslemere with a six-goal first half blast before running out 7-2 winners to maintain their one-point lead at the top of South Women's League Division 3B.
They swept into a 3-0 inside 12 minutes through Laura Pendleton, Vicky Field [left] and Lydia Jackson before Hannah Enticknap got Haslemere on the board from a penalty corner.
By half-time Fareham were 6-1 up with Georgia Collins, Sian Edwards and Vicky Field converting.
Field scored Fareham ony goal after the break, the Haslemere goalkeeper making a series of fine saves to restrict the deficit. Haslemere's Hannah Gribble scored in the final play.
Havant trimmed Horsham 2-1 to stay third.
Fareham dropped deeper into the National South Division 1 relegation mire after a 6-2 defeat by table topping Oxted coincided with all three of their drop zone rivals picking up points.
Canterbury won 2-0 at Team Bath, while Oxford Hawks and Brighton & Hove (the only side Fareham have beaten) forced draws.
It has left Fareham three points adrift at the bottom, with a vastly inferior goal difference (minus 22) to their rivals.
Head coach Ben Barnes conceded that: "Oxted were the best side we have played and were competitive for long periods of the game. They were clinical and finished their chances well.
"It was an even first half but going in at half-time 3-0 down felt a little hard on how we had played.
"We did not deal with their aerial threat well enough and conceded two goals from them. Another counter attack was finished well after we were caught in possession and it was uphill from there.
"We had three chances first half that really needed to go in but went begging.
"The second half was more encouraging as we sorted out a few team shape issues, identified some individual errors and played better as a team going forward but the damage had been done."
Oxted were 4-0 up before Fareham got on the scoresheet - Jamie Rawlings converting a 49th minute penalty corner on his return from Reading.
Fareham's second goal (at 6-1) came from a Rory Penrose penalty stroke.
James Meakin hobbled off with a hamstring injury and is rated 50/50 to play at Team Bath on Sunday.
Ali Birch wasn't sure whether to celebrate or commiserate after Holly Cameron's second half goal secured a 1-0 South Women's League Division 3B win for Winchester over the Southampton ladies team he now coaches.
Birch is part of Winchester hockey folklore, having kept goal for the city club men's team for many years until recently.
But, branching out into the hockey coaching world, Birch is currently pulling the strings for Southampton from the sidelines.
He watched his Southampton charges call the tune in the first half, only to be denied by some smart goalkeeping by Shelly Mott.
Southampton continued to press after the break, but Winchester's defence held firm, increasing the prospect of an away goal which Holly Cameron [left] duly grabbed from the team's first penalty corner which beat Linda Dunham from a tight angle.
Six-hit Trojans soared clear away from South League Premier Division relegation trouble after a 6-1 mauling of Banbury - the victory taking them eight points clear of the drop zone.
Matty Bell, Dan Ferrier [left] and Ben Frost all hit doubles for Trojans, while Rowledge cricketer Sam Plater scored Guildford's solitary goal in the 3-1 defeat by promotion chasing Oxford University.
Chichester scored three times in the last 11 minutes to beat Bromley & Beckenham 3-1 - the Kent visitors having led the Eastern Conference promotion chasers for almost an hour.
Oliver Lennox got the sixth minute goal that Bromley clung on to deep into the second half when Chichester exploded into action with Richard Blakesley scoring twice in three minutes and Joe Budgen [left] wrapping it up in the closing stages.
The win leaves Chichester third in the log one point behind Cambridge City, who held Spencer 2-2. Chichester host Old Loughtonians at the Technical College on Sunday, 2pm. Picture by Neil Marshall.
A late brace by teenager Harry Trussler (left) enabled Winchester to beat fellow strugglers Tunbridge Wells 4-2 and lift themselves off the South League Premier Divison basement in the process.
Winchester twice allowed leads to slip before Trussler stepped into the limelight to convert successive penalty corners and give the city side two precious points in their battle to avoid relegation.
The Kings' survival scrap, in which both teams are deeply involved, gave the clash huge significance and it was the visitors who started the brightest.
Yet Winchester's attacking force soon showed a spark with Ben Hibberd putting narrowly over the bar.
Shortly afterwards, Craig Jeffrey, returning from an early season injury, received a pass from Kent Langridge and powered into the D, slotting past the TW keeper after 15 minutes.
The goal settled Winchester, and their first penalty corner nearly extended their lead as the loose ball spun agonisingly on the line before being cleared.
Tunbridge Wells still had plenty of enterprise and in the dying minutes of the first half, they broke through a couple of missed midfield tackles, found a way round the back of Winchester defence and Tom Butt converted an unstoppable reverse strike to level matters at 1-1.
An action-packed second half ensued, begun by a stunning solo goal from Kent Langridge, turning his man brilliantly in the D and sliding the ball past the advancing Tunbridge Wells keeper.
From here onwards, Winchester goalkeeper/coach George Harris came into his own, with two outstanding penalty corner saves and another when he was abandoned by his otherwise- loyal defence to face a short range one-to-one which he smothered.
Tunbridge Wells kept the pressure on for another equaliser and Winchester were starting to look a little shaky defensively although sweeper James Pawley kept up his outstanding season's form.
The visitors' equalising goal by David Hemsley, when it came, was no surprise, a penalty corner powered past Winchester's defensive wall.
The game seemed destined to end in a draw, no use the either team, until Harry Trussler stepped into the limelight to unleash a powerful penalty corner drag-flick into the top right of the Tunbridge Wells goal to make it 3-2.
There was enough time remaining for Winchester to put the result beyond doubt as Trussler was on hand again at a penalty corner after a neat interchange.
The bottom of the Premier Division table sees three teams on ten points with Tunbridge Wells and West Hampstead.
Winchester have a minus 28 goal deficit that will be tested further by the visits of high scorers Guildford and Indian Gymkhana in the next three weeks.
Pictures courtesy of Richard Humphreys
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