HAVANT look set to be in a two-way battle for the South League Premier Division 1 title with Bromley & Beckenham after beating Banbury 6-4 in a match which had a dramatic beginning and end.
Niall Stott got the opening goal with just 12 seconds played. James Speke made it two and Mike Deller-Merricks got the third. Crucially in the second half Maciej Janiszewski added the fourth and Oliver Nail struck twice before being red carded.
Banbury kept battling on throughout the contest and clawed their way back after being 5-1 down.
Havant could not have started better after Deller-Merricks robbed a defender and slipped the ball to Stott who did the rest. Within a minute Havant were 2-0 up as Speke finished off a flowing move. In the eighth minute it was 3-0 when a high ball from Stott found Deller-Merricks, who cleverly flicked the ball over the advancing keeper.
Banbury won their first penalty corner in the 10th minute, which brought out a good save from Chris Bristow.
The Havant keeper had to deny the visitors again a few minutes later with another great save. Banbury got their first goal in the 21st minute from their second penalty corner.
The next goal was of vital importance and it went to Havant after a minute of the second half when Janiszewski hammered a powerful reverse shot into the net.
Once again Banbury never gave up, but it was Havant who went 5-1 up in the 58th minute.
Speke was fouled in the circle, which resulted in a penalty flick and Nail netted with an unstoppable flick.
Banbury struck one back before Havant scored their sixth goal - Stott finding Nail, who flicked the ball past the Banbury keeper.
With two minutes left on the clock, Banbury struck with two goals, initially when the visitors scored as play continued when Havant stopped after a suspected Banbury foot. The umpire did not agree and Nail received a yellow card for protesting, which was converted to a red. He has now begun a statutory 16-day ban.
Within seconds a Banbury attack saw an over enthusiastic challenge from Bristow, which resulted in a penalty flick, and he joined Nail on the bench with a yellow card.
Adam Bloomfield took the helmet but could not prevent Banbury scoring their fourth.
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