Fareham ladies, South Women's League Division 3B champions 2019-20.
Standing (from left): Stephen Morse (manager), Rachael Clark, Hannah Simon, Heather Batten, Emily Denham, Kiera Denham, Laura Pendleton, Georgia Collins, Ange Cryne. Kneeling: Hayley Wood, Hannah Oldham, Sophie Raymond, Lydia Rosewall, Tara Lemon, Vicky Field, Lydia Jackson. Far right: Steve Lemon.
The UK population are being forced to improvise given the current nationwide lockdown because of the coronavirus epidemic.
And Fareham Ladies' first-team were no different as they still found a way to come together – despite social distancing restrictions - to celebrate being crowned South Women's League Division 3B champions, writes Lewis Mason of the News, Portsmouth.
Steve Lemon's side discovered top spot was secured following the authorities' decision to leave all six divisions in the section as they were after 19 matches as the hockey season was cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
That means that Fareham, a point clear of Old Georgians in Division 3B with three games left, will now go up as champions.
Fareham and OGs will replace Worthing and draw specialists Trojans II in Division 2 next season.
But there was just one thing missing as the squad and management came together on a video conference to celebrate the news - they had no trophy.
It remains to be seen when they can finally get their hands on the silverware, but head coach Lemon - whose team won 15 of their 19 games, drawing two and losing only to second-placed Old Georgians and third-placed Havant - is not overly fussed.
‘We had one of these group conference chats where we all had a chat and a beer each to celebrate and say well done to everyone,' he beamed.
'Apparently there will be a trophy at some stage. They normally hand it over at the AGM in May but that has already been postponed.
‘We’ll get a trophy at some stage when this is all over, we’ll get ourselves together and have a proper celebration.
‘Apart from my daughter, I haven’t seen any of the girls since we won it which is a little bit sad.
‘We had a little video conference chat the day after we found out.
‘I thanked the girls for all their efforts. But that’s about all we’ve been able to do.
‘We don’t need the trophy, everyone had worked hard and got the rewards for the hard work put in.'
Fareham conceded just 19 goals in as many league matches as they clinched the title, Jill Tovey producing several fine displays behind the posts.
Batten has a Field day
But it was the quality at the other end of Heather Batten and Vicky Field that made the difference.
Leading scorer Batten, who dropped down several rungs on the hockey ladder to join from National League Trojans in the summer, grabbed 24 goals while Field netted 17.
Between them, they contributed more than half of the team’s 74 goals over the league campaign.
'We’ve been in the league for five or six years and we’ve been trying to get out for a while,' added Lemon.
‘I’d have been grumpy if we hadn’t done it this season.
‘Apart from the first year, we’ve been in the top six for all of them.
‘This year we were lucky enough to sign Heather.’
Batten began the season in sensational fashion, netting 17 goals in her first five appearances.
She belted five on her debut in an 11-0 trouncing of Tulse Hill & Dulwich and added five more in a 7-0 win over Haslemere. Four more followed in a 7-1 thrashing of Lewes.
‘Heather has given us those goals to push us over the line that we probably haven’t scored in previous seasons,’ Lemon remarked.
‘Those extra 20 goals were key.'
Winchester 1-1 draw at Banbury gave them a marginal edge in their South Premier League relegation battle ahead of the now suspended final week of competition.
Winchester's final game is at home against already-crowned champions London Wayfarers, whilst West Hampstead, one point behind them and a nine-goal difference deficit, take on the mid table Banbury.
If Winchester maintain their 10th position, then hope transfers to National League Bromley and Beckenham in escaping their own relegation. If they fail to do that, then Winchester would face highly testing play offs with the teams finishing second in the two regional feeder leagues. Craig Jeffrey scored Winchester’s goal at Banbury.
Trojans, meanwhile, suffered a double dose of the Blues when Oxford University thrashed them 6-1 at Stoneham Lane, where Richard Aves was on target.
Fareham ladies took another positive step towards the South Women’s League Division 3B championship with a 3-1 win over neighbours Southampton – but they still can’t shake off title rivals Old Georgians.
With three games to go, Fareham still lead OGs by a single point – with a handy plus six-goal difference under their belts – the Weybridge girls winning 3-0 at Lewes.
“It’s going to the wire, that’s if we finish,” said Fareham coach Steve Lemon, mindful of the Covid-19 pandemic which could yet lead to a premature abandonment of the competition.
“Historically, we’ve struggled against Southampton in the past, with just one Fareham win from the last seven matches the sides and we had to work hard and only sealed it late on.
“But it’s another win crossed off. Three more, provisionally starting at Winchester on Saturday lunchtime (noon), will get us across the line.”
Fareham made most of the running in the first half, Southampton initially concentrating on containment and counter attacks but, despite having the majority of the possession, the table topping hosts had little in the way of clear chances to show for it.
The breakthrough came in the 18th minute when a loose Southampton clearance was intercepted by Hannah Oldham, who planted a reverse shot past the unsighted Linda Dunham to give Fareham a 1-0 interval lead.
Fareham were reduced to nine men after coach Lemon incurred the wrath of an umpire in a bizarre touchline incident. Despite the efforts of Lou Hopkins, Southampton were unable to make their numerical advantage count.
In the second half, however, they did increase the tempo, gradually gaining the upper hand and, seven minutes into the session and after some fine saves by Jill Tovey, grabbed a deserved equaliser.
Sue Merry forced a penalty corner and, after a move involving Zoe Stride, Nat Romain converted to make it 1-1.
But the old adage of teams being vulnerable after scoring themselves applied to Southampton, who promptly surrendered the initiative two minutes later.
Fareham’s penalty corner routines have not been at best of late, but preparatory work on the training ground paid off as Georgia Collins potted a deflected shot to restore their lead.
Their noses ahead again, Fareham enjoyed the better of the remainder of the game, but protecting a slender one-goal lead ensured a nervy finish.
Relief for Fareham came in the final minute with a points sealing third goal following a move down the right flank initiated by Collins, who fed the ball inside to Cita Haines.
Her pass set up Vicky Field, who lost her marker before sending a reverse shot past Linda Dunham to clinch the win points for Fareham
The thread by which Fareham were hanging on to the remotest prospect of National League South Division survival was finally severed by a remarkable late Teddington comeback which ensured the Middlesex club’s safety instead.
They scored three times in the last ten minutes against Sevenoaks to reel in a 3-0 deficit and force a 3-3 draw which secured the point they needed to end all hopes of a Fareham hockey miracle.
Teddington’s dramatic equalizer came from a penalty corner in the set-piece time added on after the umpires had blown for full-time.
As it was, Fareham – with only two victories all season – needed to win their final two matches of a now suspended season (against Havant and Team Bath) to stand any remote chance of finishing second from bottom and above Teddington who, in turn, would have to lose their last two games.
It means that Fareham have finished last and will play in either the Eastern (with Chichester) or Western Conference next season.
Head coach Ben Barnes [pictured] said he “was gutted to have been relegated.
“But, having been promoted into a very strong National League South via the play-offs, it was always going to be a tough challenge this season.
“We have had so much thrown at us from pre-season (when influential captain Niall Stott and striker James Speke broke their legs in the same week) and all the way through the winter that has made it a very hard and frustrating year.
“We still have the Hampshire Cup to focus on so we shall try and regroup quickly to be ready for that, should it go ahead, of course.”
Reflecting on the season, Barnes added: “The numbers don’t lie.
“Not enough goals for, too many goals against and not enough points.
“The guys have not stopped fighting, but we have been up against better teams who have ultimately been better in both circles than us.
“But we have a very young and, in many respects, talented squad, with an excellent youth section, so there are plenty of positive aspects for the future.”
* To compound Barnes's disappointment, his former club Reading (where he spent many memorable seasons in his fine playing career) were relegated from the National League Premier Division and will face Havant et al in the South Division next season.
Bournemouth penalty corner ace Conor Moors [pictured left] is on course to finish as top goalscorer in South Hockey League Premier Division 2 West.
His brace in the 2-2 draw with second placed Oxford OBU took his overall tally for the season to 23 goals - four more than the Blues own Zum Akhter, who also scored in the Chapel Gate draw.
Charlie Cooper is Bournemouth's second highest scorer with 11 goals.
Bournemouth lie fifth in the log with two matches left, having slipped out of the promotion frame after a bright autumn campaign.
Fareham seconds gave their prospects of inching out of the Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division drop zone a significant boost with an impressive 6-1 win over fourth-placed Basingstoke at Henry Cort.
The victory edged Fareham out of the bottom two places (above relegated Sunbury & Walton Heath and Teddington II) with two scheduled games left.
Fareham showed their intent from the start with crisp passing and high intensity, opening their account in the 15th minute with a counter-attack which cut through the Basingstoke defence and was finished off by Luke Gould.
Ten minutes later Zak Way added the second to give Fareham a 2-0 half-time cushion.
Basingstoke, who were pushing for promotion with wins in nine of their 11 pre-Christmas matches, were still creating chances but were kept at bay by some fine saves from Fareham goalkeeper Josh Dawson in goal.
After the break Fareham upped their game still further and added a third through Scotsman Christian McKenna finishing from close range.
The Fareham midfield continued to dominate with a mature, controlled performance put in by veteran Ed Faherty.
Shortly afterwards some fine interplay down the Fareham right led to the fourth being coolly converted by teenager Sam Ratliffe, who was soon on target against with a clinical conversion.
Basingstoke, already headed to a fourth successive defeat, pulled a goal back from a penalty stroke, but Fareham finished the game in style with McKenna adding the sixth.
Havant’s National League South Division derby against Fareham was postponed, as a member of the Havant squad (who trained with the team on Thursday evening) is self-isolating from the Covid-19 virus and, therefore, the postponement was for the welfare of the players, coaches, officials and potential spectators.
Havant hockey issued a statement saying: “We have been monitoring the coronavirus developments closely and following the COBRA meeting, there are strong indications that the event would not be attended to the level we require to make the event commercially viable.
“We are also concerned about the welfare and well-being of our membership, other hockey clubs and the general public who intended to attend the celebrations.”
Havant have postponed the Food Festival & Club Day linked with the National League South Division derby with Fareham on Sunday 15 March.
In a statement Havant said: “We have been monitoring the coronavirus developments closely and following the COBRA meeting today, there are strong indications that the event will not be attended to the level we require to make the event commercially viable.
“Sunday 15th March was also our Sponsors & Patrons Day and we will not now be able to provide the hospitality we intended, offering a pre-game lunch in a marquee pitch side.
“We had also invited and offered hospitality to a number of Fareham Hockey Club committee and supporters and are very disappointed that we will be unable to return the hospitality they offered Havant earlier in the season when our teams played each other.”
The Havant v Fareham match at Havant College will still take place, with a 2.30pm push back.
The Havant Park clubhouse will be open prior to and after the match to offer hospitality to the match officials and to provide post game teas for the teams.
Havant expect the influential Matt Cox to return from a knee injury for Sunday’s National League South Division derby against Fareham as they bid to half an anti-climatic finale to the season.
At the turn of the year Havant anticipated scrapping the title race out with champions-elect Oxted, but a run of five successive defeats has knocked them clean out of contention. Last weekend’s 2-1 loss ensured South Division safety for Brighton & Hove.
Last weekend Fareham lost heavily 11-0 at Oxted and now look certain to fill the automatic relegation spot. Anything but a win for Fareham on Sunday will confirm their relegation back to the Conference League.
When the two teams met at Henry Cort in mid-November Havant ran out 0-2 winners with goals from Charlie Stubbings and Manuel Silvetti, in what was a close and fiercely contested encounter.
Basingstoke are set to host the Hampshire ‘county day’ knockout finals at Down Grange over the weekend Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April 2020.
Havant are already through to the semi-finals, but the other three quarter-final ties will be played this coming week, starting with Bournemouth v Aldershot & Farnham at Chapel Gate on Sunday, noon.
Yateley entertain Southampton on Wednesday evening, with Haslemere hosting Fareham at Woolmer Hill on Thursday, 8.30pm.
The Hampshire Trophy has already reached the semi-final stage, with both ties scheduled for Sunday afternoon – Alton v Fleet & Ewshot at and Hamble v Salisbury at Satchell Lane.
Finalists in the Hampshire Open League and Trophy competitions are already known, with Fareham II and Winchester II set to go head-to-head in the OL final and Poole playing Gillingham in an all-Dorset affair Trophy showdown.
Trojans, 5-0 winners over Southampton, and Havant (who trimmed Aldershot & Farnham 3-1) will contest the Women’s Ciup final at Down Grange on 25 April, with Romsey playing the New Forest for the Trophy.
The junior finals are on Sunday 26 April.
Trojans gave Winchester’s survival hopes a helping hand with a 4-3 win at South League Premier Division relegation rivals Tunbridge Wells.
But Winchester themselves remain in the bottom two after a 3-2 home defeat by Wycombe, Ben Hibberd and Harry Trussler on target for the city club.
Elliott Cole, Dan Ferrier, Colin French and Ben Frost struck for Trojans in Kent.
Bournemouth’s hopes of pushing for a Premier West 1 promotion hopes disappeared with four defeats post Christmas, but they were on target on Thames side, hitting relegated Richmond II for six.
Twenty-one goal Conor Moors remained on course to finish as the West top scorer with a brace, while Charlie Cooper, Hugo Creaney-Birch, Freddie Hares and Ross Hattemore were also on target in the lions’ 6-2 win.
Fareham are virtually certain to be back playing Conference hockey again in the autumn after having their South Division 1 life cord effectively severed in an 11-goal mauling by champions-elect Oxted.
The double figure thrashing which coincided with second from bottom Brighton & Hove winning 2-1 at Havant means that, baring a miracle, Fareham will finish bottom.
But head coach Ben Barnes remains ever optimistic saying: “If we win our last two matches at Havant (Sunday, 2.30pm) and against Team Bath on March 22, and Teddington lose both of theirs (to Sevenoaks and Havant), we will avoid finishing last.”
But it’s a mighty tall order for a youthful Fareham side that has won only twice all season and arguably might be better off developing in either the Eastern of Western Conference next term.
Goalkeeper Rory Kemp [pictured] felt like a sitting duck in a fairground shooting gallery as Oxted ran in three goals in the first 17 minutes and were 5-0 up by half-time.
Sam Driver had a field day, scoring six of Oxted’s 11 goals as the table topping Surrey club moved to within one point of the championship.
Fareham’s second team, fighting relegation in the Hampshire/Surrey Regional League, were also thrashed, 5-0 at Reigate Priory.
Amy Sheehan scored twice in the first half to set up a 3-1 win over Sevenoaks – a result which takes Trojans within touching distance of having to avoid a play-off place to preserve their national South Division 1 status.
But their success was soured by a nasty facial injury suffered by teenager Molly Fairbairn, who had 15 stitches inserted around her lips after a team-mate’s deflection flew up into her face.
Trojans were two-up courtesy of Sheehan’s brace when the injury occurred, but it clearly unsettled them, as Nichola Strastin cut the gap for Sevenoaks nine minutes after the break.
But Martha Taylor eased Trojans’ worries with a third and points clinching goal in the fourth and final quarter.
With two games left at Canterbury and second placed Reading, Trojans enjoy a five-point lead and have a far superior goal difference to Isca. St Alban’s are already relegated.
Sheehan also scored twice in Trojans 5-0 win over Southampton – the victory securing a Hampshire Women’s Cup final place against Havant on April 25.
Jess Lind (2) and Charlotte Toms got the other goals, while Havant clinched their cup final place with a 3-1 win over Aldershot & Farnham.
Havant’s poor run of results continued with a fourth successive South Division 1 defeat at third-placed Southgate, whose 2-1 win preceded a 5-0 victory at Fareham.
The game was delayed for half an hour as a short hail storm covered the pitch white, but it was all clear by the time the game started.
Havant made a poor start, conceding a goal in the first minute. A diagonal ball to the Southgate right wing should have been intercepted and the resulting cross was deflected in at the far post by Matthew Allister.
In the 10th minute the visitors were two down after another long ball, this time down Havant’s left was deflected into the goal by Max Garner and it looked like it was going to be a tough day.
However, to their credit, Havant dug in and showed some real character as they fought to get back into the game. They had long spells of possession but they could not create any clear cut chances.
It was not until the 61st minute when Havant got on the score sheet with some good work down Havant’s right and Craig Duffy [pictured above] was on hand to finish off the move.
Unfortunately Havant could not grab a second goal as Southgate’s defence held firm in a nervy last 10 mins.
A disappointing result and Havant must now re-group for the remaining three games in order to get back to winning ways. They host Brighton & Hove on Sunday – a result Fareham will be keeping a very close eye on …
Winchester edged themselves away from the automatic relegation place in South League Premier Division 1 with a vital 2-1 away win against basement side West Hampstead.
The demanding weather conditions resulted in a scrappy affair, but Winchester were able to pull ahead within five minutes with a Craig Jeffrey [left] goal, the result of a scramble at a penalty corner after an initial Ben Hibberd attempt.
Winchester then went two up as Adam Tollefsen found Harry Trussler down the right who in turn passed on to a wide Jeffrey, whose square ball across the "D" set up Kent Langridge perfectly to sweep home.
Generally, Winchester defended well although the in-form keeper/coach George Harris was brought increasingly into the game.
With Winchester conceding an Angus Gillespie goal for West Hampstead, the result became less certain, and with the home team hitting the post late on, Harris & Co were happy to hear the final whistle.
The win takes Winchester to 16 points, three above Tunbridge Wells, with three games left to play.
Winchester II, meanwhile, remain undefeated in the current calendar year, with Henry Crompton and Stuart Swift sharing four of the goals in the 7-1 mauling of Hampshire League rivals Gillingham. Josh Fiske, Robbie Craddock and Greg Cox (pictured) were also on target.
Window cleaner George Davey scored a last gasp winner as Fareham took the first step on the ladder to a miracle escape from South League relegation with a 2-1 win over Canterbury.
Fareham’s first win since beating Brighton & Hove 4-2 in mid-October leaves Ben Barnes’s side three points behind the Sussex strugglers.
But with a goal difference of minus 36, Fareham are going to have to take at least four points from their remaining three matches to climb above Brighton – and that’s assuming they lose all of theirs.
Fareham’s final games are at champions designate Oxted (Sunday), Havant (March 15) and against Team Bath at Henry Cort seven days later, on the final day of the season.
Fareham worked hard for their victory over Canterbury, with James Seager and Phil Larcombe prominent in the move that led to Rory Penrose setting up Davey to roof the hosts in front with 11 minutes left.
Despite Josh Steel being sin binned, they held the lead until three minutes from time when, after several short corners, Lewis Fossey equalised.
It looked as though Canterbury might steal a point, but with the umpires checking their watches, Larcombe burst into the D and Davey fired Fareham’s winner past Australian keeper Cade Banditt.
Fareham weren’t expected to win their rearranged Sunday match with third placed Southgate and, having been three down at half-time, were eventually beaten 5-0.
But head coach Ben Barnes was far from disheartened.
“There where areas of the performances on both days that where encouraging,” he said.
“The second half against Southgate and, in particular, the final quarter we had five chances that went begging and forced two penalty corners.
“We are still fighting and the spirit to win against Canterbury, having let in an equaliser and then push for the winner rather than crashing was great to see.
“Against Southgate, we kept our heads after they took their chances well and stick to our guns.
“We just have to take more of the early chances we create to stay in games and are then able to push in the final quarter. Too many games we are not starting as well as we can.”
Peter Symonds College host RGS Guildford in a juicy England Hockey Notts Sport Tier 1 Under-18 Cup quarter-final tie at Trojans' Stoneham lane headquarters on Wednesday (4 March), 3pm push back.
They rattled in 20 goals in their initial three group matches - beating Marlborough 10-1, Canford 7-0 and Dean Close 3-0 - before being held 3-3 by King Edward VI.
PSC looked set for a 'round of 16' exit when Millfield led them 3-0, but the Winchester college produced a stunning comeback to win 6-3 and earn a place in the quarter-finals.
Bernie Jones [left] notched a hat-trick as Southampton thrashed Tulse Hill & Dulwich 5-2 to keep up the pressure on Havant for a potential third place finish in South Women’s League Division 3B.
Southampton were two-up in no time through Jones and, after Tulse Hill had replied from a penalty stroke, went into a 3-1 half-time lead through Sue Merry.
Jones completed her hat-trick before Tulse Hill cut the gap, but Zoe Stride got a fifth for the visitors before then end.
Havant slammed in seven first half goals on the way to a thumping 8-2 win over Aldershot & Farnham, who host Fareham on Saturday. Cat Evans got a hat-trick and Charlie Gammon two.
Winchester shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at Barnes.
The South Women’s League Division 3B championship race is set to go to the wire after Fareham wasted a great opportunity to secure a vital win against title rivals Old Georgians at Henry Cort.
The top of the table showdown ended 1-1, leaving Fareham one point ahead of their Weybridge rivals with six matches left to play.
But Fareham, who enjoy a superior goal difference going into the run-in, ought to have won it.
Trailing at the half-time break, they squandered an early second half penalty stroke and then failed to convert any of the staggering number of 15 short corners they forced as OGs were pinned back in their own D for long periods.
The stalemate means that Fareham, with a far tougher run-in, will probably have to win all six matches if they are to lift the title.
OGs are the only side to have beaten Fareham this season (3-0 in the autumn) and it looked as though they might repeat the dose when Nicky Campling [pictured by Tristan Page] put them ahead in the 15th minute, ironically from a penalty corner.
Fareham battered long and hard at the visitors’ door in the second half, top scorer Heather Batten wasting a penalty stroke which Georgians’ keeper Jess Ross saved comfortably.
Fareham did eventually equalize midway through the second half through Georgia Collins, but so many short corners opportunities were squandered as the girls continually tried to pass the ball into the OGs goal instead of getting shots on target.
Upcoming matches against Southampton and Winchester, fourth and fifth in the log, are clearly going to be vital for Fareham. OGs face four of the lower placed sides this month.
Window cleaner George Davey scored a last gasp winner as Fareham put themselves on the first rung of the ladder to a miracle escape from South League relegation with a 2-1 win over Canterbury.
Davey threw the bucket at Canterbury with the very last hit of the match, the Fareham striker having ten minutes earlier come of the bench to give Fareham a previous lead, which Lewis Fossey wiped out.
Havant suffered a fourth defeat on the bounce when they lost 2-1 at Southgate, who visit Fareham's Henry Cort on Sunday, 1.30pm.
Full reports to foillow.
Winchester lifted their South League Premier Division fears with a critical 2-1 win at West Hampstead, where goals by Craig Jeffrey and Ken Langridge proved crucial.
Richard Aves, Colin French and Ben Frost scored as Trojans trimmed Milton Keynes 3-1, while Bournemouth suffered a second consecutive West Division defeat, losing 4-2 to Southgate despite a Conor Moors brace.
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