Home crowd roar Tyrell & Co on to stunning escape

Havant skipper Kim Tyrell. Picture: Rob Atkins
Havant skipper Kim Tyrell. Picture: Rob Atkins
Katie Spooner is aiming high for City of Portsmouth Ladies. Picture: Keith Woodland

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Kim Tyrell has spoken of her pride after Havant snatched South Clubs’ Women’s League division one survival.

The skipper has tirelessly steered her troops through a bumpy campaign which culminated in a relegation decider against Guildford on Saturday.

Roared on by a partisan home crowd, goals from Sam Lister and top-scorer Steph Lurshay saw them come from behind to beat their visitors 2-1 at Barncroft Way.

The triumph propelled Havant out of the sole relegation spot and condemned the Surrey side to the drop.

And for a relieved Tyrell, it was the perfect finale for her brave side.

The captain said: ‘I’m extremely proud of how hard the team fought.

‘Even when we were under pressure, the ladies worked effectively to absorb attacks and launch counters of our own.

‘And the motivation to keep helping each other was encouraged by the passionate support on the sideline.

‘It was amazing to play in an atmosphere like that.’

There was nothing straightforward about Havant’s final act, though.

Trailing Guildford by two points going into the last game of the season, only a victory would do.

But they owed much to the athleticism of 15-year-old goalkeeper Lauren Wake for keeping the scores level going into the half-time interval.

The Mayfield School talent produced a breathtaking diving stop to keep out a penalty flick after Havant were penalised for their part in a goalmouth melee.

Coach Drew Emery helped rally the troops at the break and they returned determined to pose the Guildford defence questions.

But before they could threaten the visitors took the lead, driving in from the right flank to find the net. Buoyed by the unflinching support of the Green Army, Havant then upped their work-rate.

Katie Paxman was only denied by a reaction stop from the Guildford keeper when she was sent clear.

And soon after the visiting stopper had to be at her best to keep out a Sophie Brigg drive with a diving save.

Havant soon got the reward their pressure deserved, though. Katie Pugh, who shared the player-of-the-match gong with Paxman, rattled the far post after a magical solo run and Lister was on hand to coolly tuck the ball in from close range.

Visibly growing in confidence – and with their rivals becoming increasingly desperate – Havant then scored the all-important second with Lurshay showing stunning technical ability to lash home a bouncing ball on her reverse stick side.

Guildford refused to throw the towel in but Havant’s defence of Tyrell, Helen Moore, Amanda Hilsdon and Lauren Thomas-Peter repelled three short corners, with Holly Firkins in typically assured form in front of them.

And to the delight of the home crowd they secured their top flight spot – a feat made all the more remarkable given the fact Emery, in his first year in charge, has had just four of last term’s squad at his disposal.