Havant fall to defeat at Cheltenham

Matt Cox opened the scoring for Havant in their defeat at Cheltenham.  Picture: Keith Woodland
Matt Cox opened the scoring for Havant in their defeat at Cheltenham. Picture: Keith Woodland
Niall Stott Picture: Neil Marshall

Fareham edge thriller at Havant

Matt Cox. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant seal victory at Clifton Robinsons

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Havant’s troubles on the road continued as they threw away a two-goal lead and fell to a 3-2 defeat at struggling Cheltenham in National League men’s conference west.

The visitors made a brilliant start to the game and took the lead through Matt Cox in the early stages.

Chris Smith intercepted the ball in midfield, before Cox fired a low shot beyond the Cheltenham keeper after exchanging passes with Maciej Janiszewski.

Havant continued to push forward and Matt Boote and Adam Bloomfield both had efforts saved.

The hosts had their first sight on goal in the 17th minute after winning a penalty corner, but it was well saved by visiting keeper Chris Bristow.

Cheltenham again went close moments later when they rattled the post with a backhand shot, but the rebound was well cleared by Havant skipper Raj Laly.

The visitors gave a National League debut to Tom Croft-Baker and he slotted into the midfield well.

The youngster linked well with Matt Boote, who drove into the hosts’ circle.

His shot was deflected by a defender, but Mike Deller-Merricks smashed in the rebound to double Havant’s lead.

However, Cheltenham started their comeback on 33 minutes when they took advantage of a lapse in concentration from Havant’s defence.

And the second half could not have started any worse for the away side, with the relegation-threatened hosts back on level terms within two minutes of the restart.

A ball out of the visitors’ rearguard was plucked out of the air and the Cheltenham forward drilled home a backhand shot beyond the reach of Bristow.

From looking comfortable before the break, Havant found themselves on the back foot and the momentum was with Cheltenham.

The visitors conceded a second penalty corner, but it was well saved by Bristow.

Cheltenham pressed their foot on the gas but Havant’s defence refused to be breached.

They then had a great chance to regain the lead when the ball fell to Janiszewski.

He seemed to have his shot blocked by a Cheltenham defender’s foot, but the decision went the hosts’ way and Janiszewski sent to the sin bin for his protests.

Havant held firm while they were down to 10 men, but Cheltenham clinched the victory on 57 minutes through a low backhand shot to clinch a 3-2 win.

n Meanwhile, Havant Ladies delivered a 2-1 win over Buckingham Ladies seconds as they bid to survive relegation from South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League division two.