Point sees Havant leapfrog Fareham

The Cheltenham keeper saves from Andy Pett    ''Picture: Tristan Beard
The Cheltenham keeper saves from Andy Pett ''Picture: Tristan Beard
Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant give leaders Exeter a big scare

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THERE was a switch-up in England Hockey League conference west as Fareham were leapfrogged by local rivals Havant.

Fareham missed the chance to go fifth as they were trounced 5-1 at home to promotion-chasing Cardiff & UWIC.

And while Havant failed to match their recent run of fine form at lowly Cheltenham, an Andy Pett leveller earned them a 3-3 draw.

That point was enough to see Havant swap places with Fareham to go sixth.

But with both teams now on 16 points – two ahead of Cheltenham, who currently occupy the relegation play-off slot – much work is still to be done to be assured of safety.

Havant had the better of the opening exchanges and overcame an injury to Pol Soms Irazola to take a ninth-minute lead through Bruno Gorrini.

At that stage, the visitors were harassing well in midfield and taking control, with a couple of half-chances being survived by Cheltenham.

Gradually, however, the hosts fought their way into the game and on 18 minutes they were awarded a penalty stroke for an illegal stick tackle, which Will Pearce converted high to Andrew Isaac’s right.

Two minutes after the interval, Cheltenham were reduced to 10 men for a green card offence.

But not only could Havant not make that count, they went behind after a fine run from midfield resulted in a simple conversion by Alex Salmon.

Isaacs came to the rescue when a Cheltenham forward was found behind the defence but the keeper smothered the goal attempt.

That proved crucial as Havant equalised in the 53rd minute as a neat move down the right involving Satchi Reddy and Pett led to Irazola setting up Oliver Nail to volley in from two yards.

Two Cheltenham injuries led to a spell of Havant pressure but the home side took the lead again when James Legg was again allowed to get behind the defence and, this time, Isaacs was beaten.

The home side’s joy was short-lived, however, as Havant immediately went down the other end, where Irazola’s shot rebounded to Craig Duffy, whose stick was impeded for a penalty stroke.

Pett scored assuredly to the keeper’s left to net his side’s third. And despite a late flurry from Cheltenham – and Havant far from their best – the visitors held on for a point.