Havant’s title hopes ended in remarkable Sevenoaks defeat

Sandeep Singh put Havant 2-0 up. 'Picture: Mick Young
Sandeep Singh put Havant 2-0 up. 'Picture: Mick Young
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Ady Adams admitted Havant’s indiscipline cost not only the game against Sevenoaks but also ended all hopes of promotion this season.

The home side were leading 2-0 against one of their title rivals, before disaster struck with 18 minutes remaining.

Following a spate of yellow cards, they conceded three times in as many minutes to lose the match 3-2.

The defeat in South League premier division one leaves third-placed Havant eight points adrift of their second-placed Kent opponents, with just five games to go and Old Georgians safely on top.

It’s the second time this season that the Barncroft Way outfit have thrown away the lead against Sevenoaks – and they have now paid the ultimate price.

‘A moment of indiscipline cost us,’ said Adams.

‘They scored all of their goals while we had players off the pitch.

‘At half-time we said that if we maintain our discipline we will win the game.

‘Then we got three yellow cards.

‘That’s happened twice in big games this season because the same thing happened against Old Cranleighans.

‘It’s pretty much ended the season for us.

‘With 15 minutes left we were back in the title race and just needed to beat Old Georgians at our place.’

It all began so well for Havant as Tom Murtagh hit the Sevenoaks post in the 18th minute, with the rebounding ball resulting in a penalty corner.

Sandeep Singh, playing in his first game since returning from India, stepped up but his drag-flick was taken off the line by a defender.

Havant took the lead after 28 minutes, though, when Oliver Nail dived in to deflect Laurie Bowden’s pass to give his side a half-time lead.

Sevenoaks missed a breakaway opportunity early in the second half and a minute later Singh made it 2-0 from a penalty corner.

Home goalkeeper Ben Cowling made a great save in the 44th minute to deny the Kent side just after James Lester went off with a rib injury.

Then the spate of yellow cards arrived to turn the game on its head.

Tomasz Nowicki was the first to go for a tackle from behind, but as soon as he returned, skipper Raj Laly was yellow-carded in the 51st minute.

Havant were then reduced to nine men just a minute later when Nowicki received his second yellow.

A full-strength Sevenoaks side then put their hosts to the sword with a devastating three-minute spell that saw goals from Michael Barber, Michael Shelton and George Torry give them a 3-2 lead.

The hosts tried hard to pull a goal back but it was too late to salvage their promotion dreams.

Adams was pleased with his side’s overall performance but felt the match should have been wrapped up well before the final quarter.

‘Our game plan, formation and our approach to the game was absolutely right,’ said Adams.

‘We were 2-0 up and coasting, we were leading at their place, too.

‘With 15 minutes to go I thought we were home.

‘Sevenoaks were out of ideas and we looked like we could score at any time.

‘A couple of big decisions didn’t go in our favour. We should have had another penalty corner and could have gone 3-0 up.’

‘Sevenoaks were dead and buried but they kept themselves motivated and were able to pounce and get the goals they needed for the win.’