Fareham praying foes can do them a favour

Craig Peel netted two in Fareham's 4-2 over University of Birmingham
Craig Peel netted two in Fareham's 4-2 over University of Birmingham
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Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant unable to halt Olton counter charge

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Fareham ensured their Conference West survival bid would go to the final day of the season after a 4-2 home win over University of Birmingham.

A victory for fellow strugglers Bournville over relegated Stourport, though, means Fareham now need a favour from their old foes Havant to avoid the relegation play-offs.

Put simply, if Fareham win at Whitchurch this weekend – and Havant get the better of Bournville – Fareham would stay up on goal difference.

Any other scenario, however, would result in Nigel Cook’s team going into the play-offs, where the winner of a round-robin tournament with the second-from-bottom teams in Conference West and North stays up, while the other two are relegated.

Fareham lived to fight another day with a morale-boosting victory against Birmingham at Henry Cort.

Craig Peel was once again among the goals, netting a double – including one fine solo effort.

Alex Bennett and Ben Hibberd also scored to set up this weekend’s exciting finale.

The good news for Fareham is that Havant are ending the campaign on a solid run of form.

They moved into fourth place in the table after a 1-1 draw at third-placed Guildford, making it five matches unbeaten.

Havant then took that run to six games after thrashing Hamble 6-0 in the Hampshire Cup quarter-finals.

Chances were few and far between in a tight match at Guildford.

And even when defences were breached, Havant keeper Andy Isaacs and ex-international Simon Mason, in goal for Guildford, kept their opponents at bay.

The second half started in a similar fashion but a mistake in the Havant defence allowed a 2 v 1 situation to develop and Isaacs was unable to stop Guildford’s David Wilson from slotting home.

Havant’s defence was now under pressure but they raised their game and started to put Guildford on the back foot.

The away side’s superior work-rate and team play put their opponents under severe pressure, which finally paid off in the 58th minute with a clever deflection by Alasdair Pollard for his first goal in Havant’s senior team.

The visitors now had their tails up and were forcing Guildford into making mistakes.

Havant thought they had won the game when the ball flew into the net, but a perfectly good goal in many neutrals’ eyes was disallowed by the umpire for entering into the D too high.

The following day, Havant proved too strong for Hampshire League champions Hamble.

The underdogs started brightly and were denied taking the lead only by keeper Matt Weeks’ fine save.

Havant were poor in a goalless first half but showed their class once Andy Pett put them ahead.

That opened the floodgates as two more goals from Pett and strikes by Craig Duffy, Jamie Askam and a goal on his debut for Ollie Nail sealed Havant’s progress into the semi-finals.