Fine margins often determine the outcome of matches – and none more so than the events on the hour mark of Havant’s 2-1 England Hockey Western Conference derby win over Fareham at Henry Cort.
With ten minutes left on the clock, an intriguing derby was in the balance at 1-1 when Richard Mantell, Fareham’s former Great Britain Olympian, crashed a searing drag flick against the underside of the Havant crossbar and out for safety.
In the counter attack which followed, Charlie Stubbings split the Fareham defence before finding Portugal international Miguel Rodrigues, who fired home Havant’s winner.
The victory kept Havant in second place behind Olton & West Warwicks, who beat Chichester 4-1. The pair each has 25 points, but Havant have a game in hand.
The derby, played in front of a bumper crowd (which far exceeded any of the previous day’s attendances in the Wessex League), was a typically tense affair, with Fareham enjoying the early territorial advantage and having 10th and 16th minute shots saved by Polish international Maciej Pacanowski, who went on to become man of the match.
The Stubbings brothers, Charlie and Jack went close for Havant, while teenager Ethan Hoddle gave Fareham a scare, while at the opposite end Martin Gough had a good opportunity to give the host the lead.
The stalemate was broken in the lead-up to half-time, with Havant taking the lead and Fareham equalising soon after.
Matt Cox was instrumental in Havant’s penalty corner opener crisply tucked away by Argentinian defender Federico Bertoni. Fareham 0, Havant 1.
Fareham’s response was almost immediate. Mantell picked out Adam Bloomfield, whose darting run pierced the Havant defence. Ironically, Bloomfield only joined Fareham at the turn of the year because he couldn’t get a regular start for Havant. Half-time Fareham 1 Havant 1.
Fareham seized the initiative at the start of the second period, winning penalty corners the second of which tested Pacanowski, who flung himself to his left and deflected a shot wide of the upright.
A spate of yellow cards saw Havant reduced to nine men at one stage, but Fareham’s failure to take advantage of their numerical superiority eventually cost them.
The match was turned on its head on the hour mark with Martell smashing a drag flick against Pacanowski’s crossbar. The ball bounced agonisingly back into play and Havant survived.
Fareham didn’t when Havant launched their follow-up attack, Charlie Stubbings making good progress on the left before setting up Miguel Rodrigues to score what proved to be the winner.
Fareham won two late unconverted penalty corners, but Havant played out time to secure a victory which may prove so crucial to their title aims. Sixth place may now prove beyond Fareham, who could have to rely on seventh spot to gain a play-off spot.
They ought to have got something from this derby, but fine margins dictated otherwise ….
* Chichester remain second from bottom after a 4-1 defeat at Olton & West Warwicks, where Ollie Baxter scored a late consolation goal.
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