Havant stuck in winless run

Mike Deller-Merricks scored twice in Havant's 3-2 defeat at the hands of Birmingham University
Mike Deller-Merricks scored twice in Havant's 3-2 defeat at the hands of Birmingham University
Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant give leaders Exeter a big scare

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Havant’s seemingly endless winless run continues to see them spiral into relegation trouble after they went down to a 3-2 loss at Birmingham University.

Merijn van Willigen’s side are in a dreadful sequence of results that now extends to 10 games without a victory – and they are in increasingly serious danger of crashing out of the league if it continues.

The Barncroft Way outfit went into the Christmas break on a run of six games without a win, and only one of those – a 2-2 draw at Cheltenham – was not a defeat.

But the rest has not appeared to help, with four straight losses since the league restarted.

Havant last tasted Men’s National conference west victory way back in October, when they beat Birmingham 5-0 to chalk up a fifth win in six games.

But it’s a mark of the change in fortunes that they went down to a 3-2 defeat to the same opponents on Saturday.

It leaves the local outfit in serious trouble and one of five clubs separated by just two points at the bottom of the table.

Guildford are bottom of the table on 12 points. But improving Isca picked up another win and are on 13, with three clubs – including local rivals Havant and Fareham – all on 14 points.

The last-placed club will be relegated but the team that finishes second from bottom will face a play-off to stay in the division.

And Havant will be desperate to ensure they are one of the three clubs to seal safety from their remaining three games.

Van Willigen’s side face a huge clash at home to Guildford on Sunday, when they could take a huge step towards safety with victory.

On paper, it is their best chance of picking up a win, with Exeter and Cardiff to play in the final two fixtures.

On Saturday, after conceding a goal inside two minutes to Will Byas, Havant responded well. They dominated much of the half and played a different formation which allowed Connor McLaughlan, Sam Broadhurst, Gurmukh Bhamra and James Lester to be more expressive.

And that dominance paid off when Mike Deller-Merricks grabbed the equaliser – smashing home a rebound off the Birmingham keeper.

Although boosted by the leveller, Havant’s hopes were hit when Ollie Nail suffered a blow to the foot from close range and was sidelined for the remainder of the game.

It didn’t seem to ruffle Havant too much, though, and Deller-Merricks was on hand to net his second, deflecting his side into the lead from Jon Pickett’s cross.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men following green cards, before Todd Freedman picked up a yellow card for a rash tackle. But Havant only had themselves to blame, conceding an unnecessary penalty corner as Byas struck Birmingham’s equaliser.

And the home side netted what turned out to be winner in the 47th minute, when Chris Rawlings beat Ben Cowling after Havant had squandered possession.

The visitors, however, still had their chances to take something from the game as both Pol Soms Irazola and Indy Laly wasted one-on-one chances.

But it was in keeping with the club’s recent run of results that they failed to take them and slipped to another morale-sapping defeat.