Pickett strikes double as Havant graft out win

Gurmukh Bhamra's quick thinking set up team-mate Ollie Nail for Havant's third goal against Isca Picture: Mick Young
Gurmukh Bhamra's quick thinking set up team-mate Ollie Nail for Havant's third goal against Isca Picture: Mick Young
Laura Ryan in control for Fareham Ladies against Aldershot & Farnham. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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A first-half double from Jonathan Pickett helped Havant to a hard-fought win at Isca and kept up their flying start to the new campaign.

Pickett struck twice, with a second-half effort from Ollie Nail helping his side to a 3-1 success.

That lifted Merijn van Willigen’s side up to second in the National League conference west table after five games.

They didn’t have it all their own way against the strugglers, however, as Isca battled back into the game after the break.

It took Havant 15 minutes to race into a two-goal lead as they started at a frantic pace.

Pol Soms Irazola won Havant’s first penalty corner of the game in the third minute, which was converted by Pickett with a hit off the top of the circle.

Isca’s best early chance came in the ninth minute after a defensive mistake gave them the ball – but the cross flashed past the Havant goal to safety.

With Havant in control, Connor McLaughlan won their second corner of the game.

The first shot at goal was saved, but the rebound fell to Martin Gough who shot at goal but saw his effort stopped on the line by a defender’s foot.

Pickett was the man to step up and coolly convert the penalty stroke.

In the 19th minute, the visitors were reduced to 10 men.

Isca nearly made the extra man work to their advantage, but they squandered an opportunity when a ball flashed across the circle.

McLaughlan then drove deep into the circle, but saw his run halted by a well-timed tackle.

Two minutes later, Havant were in the Isca circle again and this time won a third penalty corner, with their shot saved by the Isca keeper.

The ball was then turned over in the Isca 25, and a quick break saw them advance into the Havant circle.

Ben Cowling stopped the first attempt from Isca but the rebound fell to Tom Poustie, who made no mistake.

The home side had a further chance before the break but Raj Laly made a timely interception to protect Havant’s slender half-time advantage.

Isca started the second half as they ended the first – but couldn’t capitalise on a good chance after the restart.

Soms Irazola then deflected the ball wide of goal in the 43rd minute after Chris Smith had given him the opportunity.

In the 45th minute, Chris Smith won Havant’s fourth penalty corner, with the resulting drag-flick well saved low by the hosts’ goalkeeper.

Havant were again reduced to 10 men in the 47th minute, paving the way for a scrappy period of play.

But Havant then put daylight between the sides again in the 62nd minute through Nail.

Gurmukh Bhamra took a quick self-pass free-hit outside the Isca circle and advanced forward, rounding a defender along the way.

Bhamra then ran along the byline and passed the ball beyond the keeper, allowing Nail to do the rest.

Isca had a couple of late chances, including their first penalty corner of the game.

But a combination of good defending and a good save from Cowling ensured Havant held out for a good hard-fought victory,

The result puts Havant on 10 points, with goal difference keeping them off top spot behind Cardiff & Met, who have played a game less than the Barncroft Way outfit.