Newly promoted Havant picked up a highly credible point from their opening day England Hockey visit to frequent Western Conference high fliers Cardiff Met, where a second half equaliser by Maciej Janiszewski earned them a 1-1 draw.
Lack of preparation time due to the closure of the M3 either side of Winchester was not reflected in Havant's start to the game at Sophia Gardens, with Mike Deller-Merricks breaking through the Cardiff defence down the right and trying to feed the ball to Maciej Janiszewski in the circle but the pass was intercepted by a Cardiff defender.
Cardiff soon came to life and won an early penalty corner which was charged down by Craig Duffy, but another corner was awarded as the ball clipped Craig's foot. Chris Bristow saved well from the second penalty corner low to his right.
Havant soon won their own penalty corner following good work down the left channel by Duncan Marsh, who used all his experience to find a defender’s foot. The Cardiff goalkeeper saved a good effort from Jonathan Pickett, but again a second corner was awarded, but this flashed wide of the post.
The game continued at a high tempo and Adam Bloomfield nearly gave Havant the lead, but his effort just went wide of the goal. Cardiff then won their third penalty corner, which again was well saved by Bristow in Havant's goal.
The half ended all square and Havant were pleased with their performance and also with the performances of the returning Sam Hatherley and also Matt Cox in midfield who were developing a good partnership in the middle of the pitch. Skipper Raj Laly was also pleased with youngsters Ethan Hoddle and Dan Ferrier who were making National League debuts today.
Havant started the second half as they had the 1st with Ethan Hoddle linking well with Mike Deller-Merricks, but again the Cardiff defence held firm. Cardiff were then awarded a green card and then a second card soon after and were down to nine men, but Havant could not take advantage and the score remained 0-0.
Midway through the period and back to full strength Cardiff (who included Fareham teenager Will Raymond in their ranks) won their third penalty corner of the game. The execution was not good with the flick from the top of the circle was fluffed, but it fooled the Havant defence and Cardiff took the lead through Rhys Bradshaw from the resulting rebound.
This was tough on Havant who had defended well, but they were soon pushing forward for an equaliser. It was not until six minutes remaining that Havant levelled the scores. Maciej Janiszewski pressured the Cardiff defence and stole the ball off the full back and rifled in his trademark backhand shot into the back of the goal.
This was just reward for Havant who had competed all game with an experienced Cardiff side and Havant nearly stole all three points as Indy Laly drove into the Cardiff circle and only missed his teammates stick by inches on the far post.
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