High-fliers drop points but remain unbeaten

24/9/2011 (SPORT) HAVANT V CARDIFF HOCKEY ''Action from the match between Havant Hockey Club v Cardiff Hockey Club on Saturday 24th September 2011 at Havant College.''Pictured is: (left) Havant player Andy Pett during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (113401-6232)
24/9/2011 (SPORT) HAVANT V CARDIFF HOCKEY ''Action from the match between Havant Hockey Club v Cardiff Hockey Club on Saturday 24th September 2011 at Havant College.''Pictured is: (left) Havant player Andy Pett during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (113401-6232)
Luke Cornish snatched Fareham a point at Olton

Cornish grabs Fareham a point in thrilling game at Olton

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Havant and Fareham maintained their unbeaten starts to the season but had to settle for draws in their weekend encounters.

After both clubs enjoyed 5-0 successes in their EHL Men’s Conference West curtain-raisers, Havant were held to a goalless draw with Cardiff, while Fareham were pegged back for a 2-2 draw at Guildford, despite Ben Hibberd’s double.

Looking to build on last week’s impressive performance, Fareham suffered an early setback when they went 1-0 down early in the contest as Christopher Boot capitalised on a rebound to beat George Harris.

But the visitors hit back quickly as Hibberd notched the first with a deft touch to deflect beyond former England and Great Britain keeper Simon Mason.

Spurred on by the goal, the away side continued to put pressure on their hosts, and their perseverance paid off on 27 minutes when Hibberd deflected the ball through the tall goalkeeper’s legs.

Fareham maintained their slender advantage until the break, but after the restart it was clear that Guildford were in no mood to settle for second best.

They immediately upped their game, hassled and harried the ball carriers, and were rewarded when they levelled the score from a tight angle through Rory Marsh.

After the goal, Guildford continued to work hard to get the ball and attack.

But they were unable to build on the momentum gained, with Fareham holding on to secure a valuable draw to keep them second in the league table.

Havant dropped to third on goal difference after their scoreless draw against newly-promoted Cardiff.

With the scoreline failing to reflect what was an action-packed game, the home side could have taken the lead in the second minute, with keeper Ben Dudley alert to deny Sunny Singh’s drag flick from a short corner.

Cardiff’s game plan was to restrict the time Havant had on the ball and they carried this out with great effect, often double-teaming the man in possession.

With no time on the ball, Havant were forced to try to beat an opponent before moving on the ball, and time after time they lost possession to a very busy Cardiff unit.

With their tactics working, the visitors seized control. Yet it was Havant who created the next clear-cut chance on goal on 30 minutes when Singh set up Jon Smedley.

He ran across the byline and passed the ball across the Cardiff goal, but there was no-one there to apply the finishing touch.

After the break, Cardiff came out the stronger and a good save was required by Andy Isaacs in the 41st minute to keep the visitors at bay.

A minute later, Havant were down to 10 men when Jamie Askham was shown a yellow card for a rash tackle, which further allowed Cardiff to press Havant back.

To their credit, though, Havant held their own and soon took control despite their disadvantage.

Smedley and Pett went close from penalty corners before Cardiff were reduced to 10 men on 66 minutes.

Unfortunately, Havant committed some basic errors trying to chase the game and a Cardiff defence held out to seal a share of the points.