Fareham prove a handful as Havant make their point

Nathan Palmer finds himself surrounded by Cheltenham players during Fareham's 5-2 win at the weekend
Nathan Palmer finds himself surrounded by Cheltenham players during Fareham's 5-2 win at the weekend
Katie Spooner is aiming high for City of Portsmouth Ladies. Picture: Keith Woodland

Developing talents can boost City glory bid

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Fareham eased their relegation worries with a confident 5-2 win over Cheltenham in the National League conference west on Sunday.

And on a positive day for local teams in the highly-competitive division, Havant earned a creditable 1-1 draw with current league leaders University of Exeter in the West Country, thanks to Pol Soms Irazola’s first-half goal.

That gutsy draw saw the Barncroft Way side consolidate sixth place in the league table – and remain four points adrift of the summit.

Meanwhile, Fareham’s win means they stretched the gap between them and rock-bottom Bristol Firebands to nine points.

But, more importantly, they also maintained their three-point lead on second-from-bottom Whitchurch, who were surprise 2-1 winners over Team Bath Buccaneers.

James Seager, Kent Langridge, Ben Hibberd, Nathan Palmer and Matt Ramsay were all on the mark for the Henry Cort side, who excelled without the services of Adam Le Page and Alex Boxall.

That meant the home team had to rely on some of their younger players to step up to the plate.

But they didn’t look out of place as Fareham won convincingly.

Fareham dominated the play and attacked in confident fashion, with Seager opening the scoring early with a penalty flick.

They then doubled their advantage on 28 minutes.

Langridge finished off some impressive play down the right flank, before Hibberd rounded off the scoring in the first half with a well-taken strike.

Palmer added a fourth after the restart.

This allowed the home side to take their foot off the pedal and, not surprisingly, Cheltenham responded with a goal from Alex Hay.

However, their joy was short-lived when Ramsay scored at the second attempt from a short corner.

Peter Duffy scored a late second for the visitors, but it was nothing more than a consolation.

In Exeter, Havant’s young side refused to roll over against a savvy university outfit who tried to use all their experience to gain the advantage over their visitors.

And this determination paid massive dividends as they returned home with a share of the spoils.

Havant opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Andrew Pett made a good run down the right wing, before firing a fierce ball into the Exeter penalty area.

There, the ball was deflected towards the Exeter goal and hit the home keeper’s chest.

It rebounded out to the top of the penalty area, where Irazola was on hand to fire home.

Despite this early setback, Exeter always looked dangerous, and from a long corner Ian White took an opportunistic shot at the visitors’ goal.

But Havant keeper Andy Isaac was there to save the day, making the first of many saves throughout the game.

At this stage, Havant were winning the midfield battle and turning over a number of attacks.

However, it was the home side who made the next impression on the scoresheet, when Andrew Ross scored from a short corner on the stroke of half-time.

In the second half, Exeter attempted to build on their momentum, but with little luck.

Some inspired keeping from Isaac and the post kept the scores level, leaving Havant delighted with their day’s work.