Havant told to raise game for derby day

Pol Soms Irazola on the ball for Havant against Fareham last season. Picture: Mick Young
Pol Soms Irazola on the ball for Havant against Fareham last season. Picture: Mick Young
fareham's James Evans, right. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Merijn van Willigen told his Havant troops to expect a tight derby battle with Fareham and warned: We must stand up and be counted.

Both clubs go into the game on the back of emphatic victories in National League conference west.

Havant beat Cheltenham 5-2 last weekend, while Fareham crushed Guildford 5-1.

The latter sit a point above their visitors after a 4-4 draw with Indian Gymkhana on the opening day.

But while van Willigen has backed his side to finish above their rivals once again this term – he admits form will count for very little come 5pm tomorrow.

The Havant coach said: ‘It is difficult to predict what will happen in derbies as it all comes down as to which team performs better on the day.

‘We want to treat it as a normal game, as much as possible, but myself and the team all know there is added pressure.

‘Fareham have a good, strong side – and have worked hard to be where they are.

‘No doubt, because of the fine line between the two teams, the game will be extremely tight.

‘The players within our squad are very competitive and they understand they are expected to stand up and be counted.

‘One of the big steps up we have made this season is we have less stand-out star players but a more well-rounded squad.

‘Every year we finish ahead of Fareham in the league and I will back my team to achieve this again this season.’

A broken finger continues to keep Tom Murtagh on the sidelines.

But other than that, the Havant squad is free from injury ahead of the derby.

Barncroft Way chief van Willigen added: ‘Unfortunately, Tom still has a couple of weeks left of recovery until we can draft him back into the team.’