Fareham earn derby success

Fareham's John Grice is stopped in his tracks by Havant's Pol Soms Irazola
Fareham's John Grice is stopped in his tracks by Havant's Pol Soms Irazola
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Ben Barnes expressed pride in his Fareham side after their 5-2 triumph over local rivals Havant in the National League Conference West.

Ben Hibberd and James Seager both struck doubles, while Shaun Baker netted a fifth, as Jonathan Pickett and Pol Soms Irazola grabbed Havant’s consolations.

It was the perfect restart to the league campaign after the two-month winter break for Fareham, with the visitors leapfrogging their hosts in the table.

And Barnes believes it gives his side a major boost for the second half of the season.

The Fareham performance director said: ‘I was really pleased with the performance.

‘The squad have worked so hard over the last three weeks in training and it was a testament to how far they have come. They got their reward from their commitment and I am very proud of them.

‘If we can continue to train and play like we have in this game, we have lots to look forward to.’

Hibberd got Fareham off to the ideal start as he opened the scoring on six minutes, tucking home with a reverse-stick effort after Rob Wilson won possession, fed Seager and put Hibberd through on goal.

Seager doubled the advantage soon afterwards after he converted a rebound after the loose ball fell to him following a penalty corner and a series of blocked shots.

Pickett then hauled Havant back into the game with a penalty stroke after Martin Gough was upended by Fareham keeper George Harris.

But another powerful finish from Seager extended the lead again for Fareham and secured a 3-1 half-time advantage that their clinical finishing merited.

Havant’s cause was not helped when they were reduced to nine men early in the second half as both Connor McLaughlan and James Lester were shown yellow cards for poor tackles.

And Fareham made their numerical advantage count as Hibberd capitalised on a Havant defensive error, confidently hammering home after the ball looped into the air to make it 4-1 and effectively seal the game.

With Havant restored to 11 men, they were handed a lifeline when Irazola converted from close range after Gough’s effort was saved by Harris to pull it back to 4-2.

But with the home side throwing caution to the wind in a desperate attempt to get something from the game, it allowed Fareham to play on the counter-attack.

And they duly settled any remaining nerves as Baker registered number five to secure the points as the visitors took advantage of a loose pass in midfield to break with purpose.

Havant coach Merijn van Willigen said: ‘The bottom line is that I don’t think we played well enough. I thought Fareham outplayed us so we got what we deserved, in that respect.

‘But I think the scoreline was a bit flattering for them. Every chance they created seemed to fly in the back of the net. It was one of those days.

‘It seemed like they scored five goals from five or six chances.

‘In fairness to Fareham, they worked very hard and took their chances, so fair play to them. But we didn’t help ourselves as they scored their last two goals from our mistakes.

‘It was a disappointing result and it’s not what we were looking for on the restart to the league.

‘But it was just a bad day at the office. Now we need to respond next week.’