Fareham not expecting to hit form in first game back

Daniel Sampey wins a ball.  Picture: Mick Young
Daniel Sampey wins a ball. Picture: Mick Young
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Fareham are not expecting to reach the level they were at before the winter break as they prepare for their first outdoor match of the year.

The National League conference west side resume their campaign away to the University of Birmingham on Sunday (12.30pm).

They are currently riding high in fourth position after a superb first-half of the season.

But now the challenge is on to replicate that form in the latter stages of the campaign.

However, performance director Ben Barnes thinks it may take some time for Fareham to get back to their best following their two-month break.

They face a tricky trip to the Midlands this weekend, with the extra headache of wondering whether the match will go ahead, given the recent cold weather.

‘We’re not expecting to take off where we finished last year,’ said Barnes.

‘It would be great to keep winning but we can’t expect to play the same kind of hockey straightaway.

‘We need to be patient. Some of the hockey might not be great but it’s important not to do too much too quickly.

‘Both sides are going to be a little rusty.

‘The guys have trained really well this week despite the cold weather.

‘Looking at the forecast, it’s going to be touch-and-go if we get to play or not but we will prepare as if it’s going ahead.’

Birmingham are just one place and two points ahead of Fareham in the table so Barnes is expecting another close encounter.

He said: ‘Birmingham are a strong side, they’re full of running and have got a physical game.

‘We lost 2-1 at our place last time but it was a very even, close game and I would expect nothing different.

‘They are two points above us so we’ve got a great chance to leapfrog them in the first game back.’

Australian Daniel Sampey, who did not play in the Hockey 5s Championships last week, should be fit for Sunday.

It may be too soon for captain Alex Boxall, though, who is struggling with illness.

Fareham Ladies are looking to climb the table in the South Clubs’ Women’s League division three B when they travel to Andover this weekend, who are two points and two places above them.

If Fareham can win their third consecutive game it could move them into mid-table respectability after a difficult start to the season.

Havant and Havant Ladies take on Oxford University in back-to-back encounters at Havant College tomorrow.

The ladies push back in South Clubs’ Womens League division one at 11.45am, with the men following straight after at 1.30pm in South Premier division one.

Last weekend Havant Ladies scored in the final minute to defeat Staines 1-0 and moved up to seventh in the table.

Meanwhile, the men also left it late to win their match with London Wayfarers 3-2.

They struck with just eight seconds left on the clock.

Havant welcomed back South African Satchi Reddy last week and he made a goalscoring return after a two-year absence.