Havant in seven heaven

Sandeep Singh  Picture: Paul Jacobs
Sandeep Singh Picture: Paul Jacobs
Luke Cornish snatched Fareham a point at Olton

Cornish grabs Fareham a point in thrilling game at Olton

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Havant started their Southern premier league campaign with an impressive 7-2 home win over Lewes.

But the Barncroft Way side were forced to do it the hard way after twice trailing to their visitors in an entertaining curtain raiser.

New-signing Sandeep Singh netted a debut hat-trick, with Michael Deller-Merricks (2), Oliver Nail and James Speke also on target for the hosts as a resurgent second-half display ensured Ady Adams’ men ran out comfortable victors.

Coach Adams said: ‘I was pleased with the result and very pleased, in particular, with the second-half performance.

‘I thought we looked a bit nervy in the first half because we were possibly trying too hard and rushing things.

‘We could’ve gone in at half-time 3-2 down which wouldn’t have been ideal.

‘We needed to slow it down and play to our strengths and let our quality shine through.

‘We did exactly that in the second half and smashed them in the end.’

The hosts forced the early pace and tempo but it was Lewes who claimed the first penalty corner of the game and – to the horror of the home crowd – the lead.

A shot at goal took a wicked deflection off a Havant stick to wrong-foot keeper Ben Cowling.

The advantage, however, only lasted three minutes as Deller-Merricks reacted quickest to a rebounded shot to level proceedings.

In a frenetic opening 15 minutes, Lewes reclaimed the lead when a loose defensive pass went straight to a high forward, who stepped unchallenged into the circle, converting via the post.

Havant were level for a second time 10 minutes later, though, when Singh fired home a low flick from a short corner, after Speke had hit the post for Adams’ side.

Lewes could have sneaked a half-time lead had Chris Smith not taken a goal-bound shot away to safety with two minutes left on the clock.

After a disappointing first half which matched the weather the sun came out and so did Havant with far more intent.

The hosts led early in the second period as Speke netted a cheeky goal – converting through his own legs from five yards out.

Nail then netted a fine individual goal of his own, dribbling into the circle before placing past the advancing keeper to make the score 4-2.

Five minutes later, it was 10 versus nine as Craig Duffy received a yellow card, only to be swiftly followed into the sin bin by two Lewes players.

The hosts made the most of their man advantage as Singh converted another penalty corner, before Deller-Merricks claimed a classy second of his own to lob the Lewes keeper.

It was former India captain Singh who top-scored for the hosts, though, adding a third penalty corner strike to complete a superb treble.

Adams added: ‘Sandeep has done well and has found his scoring boots.

‘We only had five short corners and he scored three of them.’

Havant Ladies were on the wrong end of a seven-goal thriller at Staines in Southern division one,

Zoe Stride, Anna Reynolds and Hollie Smith all converted for Mark Robinson’s battling side.

The visitors showed great character, and although this was another defeat away from home, the season will bring many opportunities to put the record straight.

Meanwhile, Havant’s under-14 side progressed to the next round of the England Hockey National Cup with a 6-3 win over Fareham.

Ollie Reed scored twice and was joined on the scoresheet by Tom Stevens, Matt Cottrell, Finn Eastwood, and Ed Roberts.