Late Rawlings strike seals Fareham win

Nathan Palmer. 'Picture: Mick Young
Nathan Palmer. 'Picture: Mick Young
Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant give leaders Exeter a big scare

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Fareham captain Alex Boxall praised the character of his side in their comeback win against the University of Exeter on Saturday.

The Henry Cort outfit were 2-1 down at half-time in their National League conference west encounter.

But they hit back to level before Danny Rawlings scored the winner seven minutes from time.

With the game billed as a must-win, Boxall was delighted with the way his side eked out the victory.

‘It showed really good character in comparison to last year, where if we went behind we would have gone into our shells a bit,’ he said.

‘We said at half-time we needed to have a real go at them from the whistle and put them under pressure.

‘We haven’t found ourselves in many situations this season where we’ve had to come from behind.

‘We changed the tactics slightly and got the goal that kicked us back into the game.

‘The win was there for the taking, it just came down to the team that could hold the ball well, be patient and make use of the play they had.

‘We got the goal and it played into our hands because they had to come out even more to try and get a goal back.

‘The game became more stretched and we were able to have a bit more time and space on the ball.’

Nathan Palmer deflected in Fareham’s opener from a penalty corner, as the hosts dominated the early exchanges.

However, James Seager missed an excellent chance to double the lead and they paid the price as Exeter counter-attacked straightaway and equalised through Matt Richards.

Ben Francis made it 2-1 to Exeter with a clean strike from the edge of the D – in only their second attack of the game.

Former Exeter player Josh Godfrey got Fareham back on level terms just two minutes after the restart, firing home a loose ball.

But midway through the half, Fareham’s Aussie Daniel Sampey had to go off with a hamstring injury and the home side went off the boil.

Exeter had a couple of decent chances but Fareham’s defenders put in desperate blocks to deny them.

Rawlings’ winner in the 63rd minute was an excellent reverse stick shot high into the goal.

Boxall added: ‘It’s a classic goal from from what we’ve been doing in training.

‘Danny Rawlings is in quite a rich vein of scoring form.

‘It was a case of transferring the ball across the back and finding the right moment to go up the line and then having the support to pass to.

‘Danny took it upon himself to take the shot. You back your strikers to score the goal and he put it in.’

Boxall also praised the effort of goalscorer Godfrey.

‘The workrate from Josh Godfrey and Jonathan Potts up front was absolutely phenomenal throughout the game,’ he said.

‘They came off absolutey shattered.

‘Josh is real asset for us –he’s calm on the ball, makes good decisions and is lethal in and around the circle.’

Meanwhile, Fareham’s ladies drew 0-0 with Andover in South Clubs’ Women’s League division three B.