Fareham aim to clean up against Bath

Fareham's Ben Hibberd
Fareham's Ben Hibberd
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Ben Hibberd is ruled out of the trip to Team Bath Buccaneers as Fareham bid to get back to winning ways in their latest National League conference west fixture.

Hibberd, who scored twice in the 5-3 home defeat to Exeter University last week, has four goals to his name so far this term and has been one of the club’s key performers at the start of the campaign.

He has scored a quarter of the team’s goals all season.

That shows his importance to the side and the gap his absence will create.

Hibberd is missing through work commitments, although the pill is sweetened by the return of James Seagar and James Rawlings.

Fareham coach Ben Barnes said: ‘Ben’s goals have been invaluable to us.

‘We will miss the goals that Ben has scored and his overall contribution to the team.

‘But it will give others the opportunity to step up and finish the chances that we create, so it’s up to others to step up and fill the void.’

Last week’s defeat left Fareham in fifth place in the table.

However, the Bath trip is seen as a pivotal clash.

A second-straight loss would leave the club in the lower reaches of the division, with plenty of ground to make up on the leaders.

Victory, meanwhile, would steer them back into the mix, with Cardiff Met setting the pace at the top.

And Barnes wants his men to cut out the errors.

He said: ‘Bath are always one of the strongest sides in the league.

‘We will need to be at our best for longer periods of the game than we managed last week against Exeter.

‘If we can achieve that and cut out the unforced errors, this will go a long way towards giving us the chance to beat Bath.’

Meanwhile, Havant are in strong form.

They host Birmingham University at Barncroft Way on Sunday.

Coach Merijn van Willigen knows it is key to get points now.

He said: ‘Our run-in to the mid-season break in November is very tough.

‘We play Cardiff, Exeter and Bath, so the better we can do now, the better we will be going into that period.

‘But we need to make a few teams a bit nervous. Cardiff have a game in hand but we are level on points.’