Havant battle to reach next round of the cup

Mike Deller-Merricks fires a shot across the goal. Picture: Mick Young
Mike Deller-Merricks fires a shot across the goal. Picture: Mick Young
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Havant advanced into the next round of the National Knock-Out Cup with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Firebrands.

Mike Deller-Merricks, Ethan Hoddle and Mohammed Toseeq Arshad were all on target for the National League men’s conference west outfit.

The visitors made a number of changes for the tie and handed debuts to Robin Toulalan-Parr and Tom Croft-Baker.

Havant started brightly and took the lead in the early stages.

After good play between Maciej Janiszewski and Tomek Bruml, Deller-Merricks rounded off a well-worked move.

However, the hosts were soon back on level terms as a consequence of some sloppy play by Havant.

A turnover in midfield was punished and an unmarked Firebrands forward was on hand to slot the ball beyond Toulalan-Parr.

The Bristol-based outfit kept the pressure on Havant and Toulalan-Parr was forced to make several smart 
saves to ensure the score remained level.

The visitors then got their act together and almost regained their advantage when Croft-Baker linked well with Bradley Lock, but his effort went just wide of the target.

Lock then turned provider for Janiszewski, but again the shot failed to test the Firebrands goalkeeper and the two sides went into half-time level.

Havant made several tactical changes at the interval which paid dividends.

Within two minutes of the restart, they won their first penalty corner.

Toseeq’s flick from the set piece hit the post but Hoddle was alert to meet the loose ball and slotted the rebound home.

The visitors continued their momentum after taking the lead and brothers David and Connor Taylor-Bargent linked well together to create a number of good opportunities.

Tomek Bruml and Craig Duffy both had chances but the Firebrands goalkeeper thwarted their efforts.

But Havant’s pressure soon paid off and they gave themselves breathing space.

The visitors won another penalty corner through Lock and Toseeq was on hand to turn the set-piece into the net.

Havant continued to extend their advantage in a much-improved second-half display.

However, they were given a scare when Firebrands netted a well-taken goal following a turnover in the midfield late on.

Havant held on, though, to clinch the game and reach the next stage of the competition.

Hoddle was awarded man of the match for a lively display that was capped off with a goal.

The next round of the cup will be played on Sunday, December 3.

Havant will find out their opponent later this week.