Fareham to battle Tigers... Havant gear up for tough test

James Seager.'Picture: Mick Young
James Seager.'Picture: Mick Young
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Ben Barnes acknowledges Fareham must be ready for a scrap if they are to get anything from their trip to Barford Tigers on Sunday (1pm).

The Tigers are only four points off the second relegation spot in National League conference west and will be fighting hard to accrue enough points to secure their future in the division.

And Barnes knows what that is like after Fareham survived on the final day of the campaign last season.

‘It was a close 3-2 win over Barford at the beginning of the season,’ said Fareham’s performance director.

‘We’ve improved massively since that game and we’ve just got to make sure we’re ready for it.

‘Barford are looking to maintain their National League status.

‘We know what that feels like because we were in that situation last year.

‘They will be trying to get as many points as possible as quickly as possible.

‘They are at home so will have a partisan crowd cheering them on so we’ll have to keep them quiet.’

Barnes has already pinpointed Barford’s most dangerous player and will be challenging Fareham to keep him quiet.

‘They’ve got Shakeel Abbasi playing for them, who is a Pakistan international,’ he said.

‘He scored all three goals for them against Whitchurch last weekend so that will add a bit of extra spice.

‘He’s going to be their go-to player.’

Fareham second-team player Tom Larcombe is in line for his outdoor first-team debut after impressing in the Hockey 5s Championship recently.

‘He’s been training really well and has been improving,’ said Barnes.

‘It’s just reward for all his hard work and endeavour.’

However, Fareham have been dealt a blow as James Seager broke his finger during last week’s draw with Birmingham and will be unavailable.

Also missing the trip to the Midlands is John Grice.

Fareham host Horsham II at Henry Cort Community School on Saturday (1.15pm).

Fareham go into the game after drawing 2-2 with Andover in South Clubs’ Women’s League division three B.

Saturday’s opponents are one place above Fareham in the league but have two games in hand.

Havant face a stiff test at Old Cranleighans in South League premier division one tomorrow.

The former National League side benefited massively from the draw between Sevenoaks and Old Georgians last weekend – their two principal rivals for the title.

So Havant will be keen to maintain that advantage and ensure there are no further slip-ups in their quest for promotion.

Old Cranleighans have not lost a home game this season, though, so Havant skipper Raj Laly is expecting a tough test against them.

‘Each game is a challenge in this league,’ he said.

‘We know we’re going to play an experienced Old Cranleighans side.

‘A lot of their players have played in the National League.

‘They tend to defend and try to score on the counter-attack. They haven’t lost at home this season so it’s going to be a difficult game.’

In South Clubs’ Women’s League division one, Havant travel to Reading on the back of a disappointing defeat to Oxford University last week.

A result at Sonning Lane will give them confidence ahead of successive matches against the top two teams in the next fortnight.