Havant aiming high for the new season

Stepping up: Ben Mackey
Stepping up: Ben Mackey
Hannah Oldham battles for the ball in Fareham Ladies' 2-1 victory over Southampton. Pictures: Chris Moorhouse

Gallery: Fareham Ladies 2 Southampton Ladies 1

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Jim Drury says the play-offs are in Havant Hockey Club’s sights this season in the EHL Conference West after a year of development in 2010-11.

University of Exeter took the league title on their way to promotion to the premier division last season.

Havant trailed behind in fourth place, winning just five of their 19 games and lagging 25 points behind the champions.

However, team manager Drury insists several important summer acquisitions have made his side top-flight candidates for this campaign, which starts for Havant at home to Cheltenham tomorrow (2pm).

Among the new faces is the club’s new overseas player – Indian forward Sumeet Singh.

And while there have been a string of exits, including last season’s captain Andrew Richards and Mark Dunn (retired), Nathan Palmer (switched to Fareham), James Lawson (moved to Belgium) and Will Cairns, Simon Hanley and Ben Upton (all at university), Drury feels the additions have improved his side.

He said: ‘After a season of developing our younger players last year, we’re aiming for promotion this time around.

‘We’ve made some important signings, including Indian fast forward Sumeet Singh, who’ll give us more in front of goal.

‘We’ve also brought in Tim Fuller from Exeter University and Colin French from Winchester.

‘Plus, we’re looking for more maturity from our England under-18 players like Ben Mackey.

‘The play-offs are a minimum aim after we finished fourth last season and fifth the season before.’

Drury believes this year’s Havant side has a better blend of youth and experience, as well as a more international feel, with the arrival of Argentinian Rodrigo Elias Levy Favier.

‘We’ve also got a player coming from Spain – that’s not confirmed yet but it’s looking good,’ he added.

Cheltenham are first up for Havant tomorrow and Drury says his men can build upon a solid pre-season.

He said: ‘We’re looking to play to our full potential this year, with more consistency and with more of a clinical edge.

‘The trouble with some games last year was that we felt we should have rolled some teams over.

‘We haven’t played at home much over the summer because of the improvements but we have to make sure every home game this season is worth three points.

‘It’s a bit of a cliché but we’ll just have to take it one game at a time.’