Fareham prepare for relegation D-day

Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant unable to halt Olton counter charge

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Nigel Cook believes staying up will match any of Fareham’s promotion achievements if they come through their relegation decider tomorrow.

Cook’s men need to win at mid-table Whitchurch to have any hope of avoiding the relegation three-team play-off.

But should they grab victory, they also require the small matter of local rivals Havant helping them out by beating Bournville.

If both results go their way, Fareham would then stay up in Men’s Conference West on goal difference.

And Cook has instructed his troops to treat tomorrow’s showdown as a cup final.

He said: ‘It’s a simple equation. We’ve got to win it and we need Havant to do us a favour.

‘At least we are safe from instant relegation but we are clear on what we need to do. It’s a cup final, it’s as simple as that.

‘I would say that if we can retain national league status, it would be as good as being promoted in the first place.

‘We haven’t had the most enjoyable of seasons and it would be a real achievement to stay up.’

It’s been a campaign of struggle for Fareham but Cook insists his men should not have found themselves in this position.

He said: ‘We shouldn’t really be anywhere near this situation. If we had taken the chances we have created and eradicated some of the mistakes at the back, we would be well out of it. But unfortunately the table doesn’t lie.

‘Our recent history is normally at the other end of the table so it’s a bit of a unique situation.

‘To appreciate the good times, you’ve also got to know how it feels when it doesn’t quite go your way.’

Defender Charlie Duffell is a fitness doubt with a hand injury and while Cook is attempting to keep preparations as normal as possible, he realises the task ahead.

He said: ‘It’s as normal as it can be. It’s a pressure situation and we will be approaching it as a cup final.

‘There is always pressure – that’s why we get involved in sport. If you can’t handle pressure, then don’t participate.’

Even though the task is not totally in Fareham’s hands, Cook is confident Havant will keep their part of the bargain.

He said: ‘I’m confident that Havant will beat Bournville because they are playing very well at the moment.

‘We’ve got plenty of friends over at Havant and I’m sure they will keep us posted with what’s going on. All we can do is focus on what we need to do.’

Havant welcome Bournville to Havant College (2pm) in a good run of form and eager to cement fourth place in the table.

Havant Ladies may have missed out on promotion to the national league but they can secure second-place in the table with a win over champions Oxford Hawks (1.30pm).

The season will go down to the wire for Havant men’s seconds, though.

They sit behind leaders Woking firsts only on goal difference and will need to bang in the goals at sixth-placed London Academicals to stand a chance of winning Hants/Surrey regional division one.

If not, Havant will go into the play-offs.