Havant keep heat on leaders
A hat-trick from Mike Deller-Merricks saw Havant men's first team keep up the pressure on league leaders Old Georgians after a 4-1 victory at Lewes.
Seeking promotion from South League premier division one, Havant were convincing winners against their relegation-threatened opponents.
Havant were without Ollie Nail, who suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury, and Tomek Bruml, who fell ill shortly before the game.
They weren’t missed, though, as the visitors eased to victory.
It was a scrappy game, with neither side able to fully take control of the contest, and both sides were shown numerous green cards.
Lewes started the brighter but it was Havant who took the lead, with Deller-Merricks finishing off a fine counter-attack.
Another counter-attack was the undoing of Lewes, with Duncan Marsh finding Deller-Merricks, who lifted the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper and into the roof of the net for his second of the day.
The visitors were soon in cruise control and added a third shortly after half-time, with James Speke finishing off a fine team move down the right-hand side, before Lewes pulled one back.
The goal of the match was still to come, though, and Deller-Merricks finished off his hat-trick in style.
He took an overhead pass in his stride, before beating a defender with ease and smashing a ‘tomahawk’ reverse shot into the net.
The result means Havant are still three points behind Old Georgians, albeit with the latter having a game in hand against bottom-of-the-table Staines.
Meanwhile, Havant ladies’ first-team’s season of woe continued after they fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to Oxford University.
The Barncroft Way side can still avoid relegation from South Clubs’ Women’s League division one, but will need to do something they haven’t done so far this season – win.
With eyes on Oxford’s annual Varsity match the next day, Havant knew they had to take advantage.
But despite dominating for large periods, they couldn’t find a way through.
Three goals in quick succession before half-time proved the sucker-punch for struggling Havant.
Their best chance came shortly before the break. They forced a penalty corner but the resulting shot was judged too high and disallowed.
Goalkeeper Mel Insall was in inspired form in the first half and kept the scoreline somewhat respectable with some fantastic saves.
As the second half begun, and with nothing to lose, the hosts played some of their best hockey of the season.
Fran Clement was particularly impressive, laying on opportunities for her team-mates which weren’t taken.
Jess Bateman, playing her last game for Havant, worked tirelessly to put the opposition defence under pressure, but it came to no avail.
When Oxford broke free of the Havant pressure, Insall was there to keep her side fully in contention.
Frustration began to grow as the game came to its end and consolation chances came and went for Havant.
They now know that nothing less than victories against Horsham and Barnes will see them relegated.