HAVANT closed the gap on league leaders Old Georgians – but made hard work of it in their win against Lewes on Saturday.
Ady Adams’ side edged past their opponents 4-3 in South League premier division one.
And with main rivals for the title Old Georgians only drawing 2-2 with third-placed Spencer, Havant now trail the early pacesetters just a point.
The home side looked like they were cruising at 3-0 up at half-time, but a shaky second half allowed Lewes back into contention.
Havant coach Adams said: ‘We started off very well and could have been five or six goals up.
‘In particular, there was some very good passing for the opening goal.
‘But then we had one or two decisions that didn’t go our way.
‘In the second half we weren’t able to play our usual high-tempo game.
‘We took our foot off the gas. It’s the first time this season that we’ve done that, which disappointed me.
‘Just because a team is in the bottom half of the table, you can’t presume you’re going to win.
‘Lewes were gifted three goals – we gave away three penalty corners and they scored from all three.
‘It allowed them back in the game and made it awkward for the last 10 minutes.’
Havant’s resources continue to be stretched at present, with only 14 players available on Saturday due to injury and unavailability.
Nonetheless, the Barncroft Way side dominated the opening period of the match and took the lead after a great team goal on 16 minutes.
Craig Duffy, Ollie Nail and Adam Bloomfield were all involved in the build-up, and it was Maciej Janiszewski who spotted the latter for a tap-in.
Then two goals in quick succession from the in-form Mike Deller-Merricks and Nail saw Havant go into the break with a three-goal cushion.
The second half was another story, though, as the hosts were guilty of complacency and poor decision-making.
Within a minute of the restart Lewes had pulled a goal back from their first penalty corner of the game, thanks to James Callaway’s flick.
Bloomfield’s sharp reactions in the 45th minute restored Havant’s three-goal lead, but it didn’t last long as Lewes scored from their second penalty corner.
Home keeper Ben Cowling saved the original flick, but Ben Cooke slapped in the rebound to make it 4-2.
Lewes’ comeback continued with a third penalty corner strike from Edward Firth and it was clear Havant were on the rocks.
In the end, though, they held on for what could be a very significant win in the race for the title.
Adams’ side are just a point behind Old Georgians and two ahead of Spencer, who they travel to this Saturday.
‘If we had drawn with a team in the bottom half, that would have let Old Georgians and Spencer off the hook,’ said Adams.
‘I think Spencer are going to be one of the top three promotion contenders next year so next weekend will be very important.’