Debut delay for Havant recruit Akhtar Ali

Jamie Whitehouse, left
Jamie Whitehouse, left
Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant give leaders Exeter a big scare

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Former Pakistan international Akhtar Ali has joined Havant for the second half of the season.

Ali arrived in the country this week after playing in a top flight tournament in Pakistan over the past few weeks.

However, he has arrived having fractured his hand in the recent tournament and will be sidelined for Havant’s first match of the year tomorrow.

Ali arrives with an impressive pedigree. He has played more than 250 international matches for Pakistan and played in the World Cups in 2006 and 2010.

He also played in a series against England in 2009.

He recently played club hockey in the Netherlands for Schaerweijde Hockey Club.

Havant resume the South League premier division one league campaign in top spot on goal difference but have a tricky start to the second half of the campaign at Old Cranleighans.

Their opponents are fifth in the table and with Old Georgians playing bottom-of-the-table Staines this Saturday, Havant must score more goals in order to regain the lead.

Old Georgians are expected to win by a few goals, so Havant’s performance this weekend is critical in the title race.

When they played Old Cranleighans in early October, they ran out 6-2 winners.

Sandeep Singh converted his first four penalty corners and the other goals were scored by Oliver Nail and Mike Deller-Merricks.

Havant will be missing a few key players though, including Singh who has now returned to India to play in the Indian Premier League.

Influential midfield player Nail is still not available but has nearly recovered from his hamstring injury.

Jamie Whitehouse is back training, but is still not available to play after his ankle surgery.

Last weekend Havant drew 3-3 with Guildford in a friendly. Both teams were short of players but it provided much-needed practice for the players.

Elsewhere, Fareham Ladies host top-of-the-table East Grinstead at Henry Cort on Saturday.

The South Clubs’ Women’s League division three B clash starts at 11.45am.

– SHAKILA BARABHUIYA