Trojans twice allowed the lead to slip before nailing London Academicals 4-2 – a result that ensured they’ll play alongside arch rivals Winchester in a revamped South League Premier Division 1 next season.
But, with Guildford winning 3-1 at Blackheath and maintaining a five-point advantage at the top (albeit having played one more game), Trojans will need a helping hand from elsewhere if they are to snatch the title at the 11th hour.
The youthful Academicals put Trojans under sustained pressure in the early stages, but the momentum of the game was interrupted when Fareham-based panel umpire Shaun Gray pulled up lame with a hamstring tear, literally 24 hours before jetting off to the Alpine slopes on a well earned skiing break.
While Gray [left] was stretchered off in some discomfort, a panic stricken Ian Bassett came up trumps with a call to the Hampshire Hockey Helpline – Kevin Tate, who had just umpired the Trojans’ ladies 3-2 win over Gloucester City, taking over the whistle.
Normal service resumed and Trojans took the lead through a Dan Ferrier drag flick, his 11th of the season.
But just before half-time Trojans were penalised for a stick block and the teams changed round level at 1-1.
Trojans, tight at the back and with Steve Cole using his experience between the posts, began the second half strongly, regaining the lead through their South African crowd favourite Sinoxolo Mbekeni, aka Essex.
Once again Trojans allowed the advantage to slip, but there was no coming back once the evergreen Paul Hilton made it 3-2 and Mbekeni got a fourth while Academicals operated with a kicking back.
Trojans might have scored a fifth late on – teen ace Toby Dudson picking out Mbekeni with an inventive aerial pass, but the ball never made its way to the waiting Scott Summers.
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