Weekend to forget for Havant

Simon Handley scored in the 2-2 draw with Stourport
Simon Handley scored in the 2-2 draw with Stourport
Katie Spooner is aiming high for City of Portsmouth Ladies. Picture: Keith Woodland

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Havant endured a weekend to forget as they suffered double disappointment on their return to league action.

Without a Men’s Conference West game since November 20 because of the winter break, Jim Drury’s side were hoping to kick-on from their mid-table position and begin 2011 on a positive note.

However, that optimism was shattered on their comeback with a frustrating 2-2 draw against bottom-of-the-table Stourport and a 7-0 defeat at the hands of high-flying Exeter University.

With Stourport winning only one of their 10 league games going into Saturday’s match, nothing more than a Havant away win was anticipated.

But with concentration levels in the Havant ranks left wanting, that was never on the cards as the home side roared into an early 2-0 lead.

Havant were left chasing the game, and to their credit, they never let their heads drop as Sam Hatherly finished off a well-worked move involving Simon Handley, Andy Pett and Jon Smedley.

The goal gave Havant confidence and, from their first short corner, Handley converted the corner with a well-rehearsed deflection.

With the impetus now firmly with the visitors, Havant surged forward in the second half but were unable to break down Stourport.

That was despite the visitors racking up eight short corners, leaving the trip home a disappointing one.

Havant, however, needed to get over their dissatisfaction quickly, with the game against Exeter immediately on the horizon.

But that was always going to be a difficult task, particularly as the university side went on the offensive straight from hit-off.

Andy Issacs pulled off a few good saves to keep the scores level.

But he could not prevent Exeter from taking the lead in the ninth minute when Robert Mugridge deflected a well-worked penalty corner high into the net.

After this setback, the home side contained the university outfit’s lively forwards but could not control the visitors’ midfield, and numerous turnovers placed the home defence under continuous pressure.

Tom Carson could not believe his luck in the 30th minute after being given the ball from a cross pass at the top of the circle.

He strolled into the circle and placed his shot past Issacs for a 2-0 lead.

James Royce put the game beyond Havant eight minutes after the restart.

And worse came in the 50th and 52nd minutes when Gareth Davies and Carson converted respectively after poor tackling and marking.

A visibly-tiring Havant did their best to fight back. And to their credit, they penetrated the Exeter defence on a number of occasions but were unable to convert.

Two more goals in the 65th and 68th minutes gave Carson his hat-trick and Royce his second as Havant were made to reflect on their heaviest defeat for years.

n Havant ladies kept their push for the title going thanks to a 2-0 win at Hampstead.

The game plan was not to give the opposition any time to settle, and this worked wonders, leaving coach Cleave Faulkner full of praise for his side’s efforts.

‘In all my time with the ladies, I can honestly say that this was the best team performance I have witnessed. Every player stepped up to the mark,’ said Faulkner.

After a titanic tussle, the deadlock was finally broken with 15 minutes left when Renske Mekel deflected home Rebecca Van Berkel’s effort. The points were then made save when Van Berkel made it 2-0.

n Havant men’s seconds stay top of their league after a 3-1 win against Bournemouth.