Havant’s hopes of bouncing back to National League hockey suffered a major blow as they were trounced 5-0 by fellow promotion-chasers Old Georgians.
Ady Adams’ side were on the receiving end of some tough umpiring decisions but were also guilty of mistakes at both ends of the pitch as they dropped to third place in the South League premier division one standings.
But the Havant coach was in no mood to write off his side’s title challenge, although he did concede that his men now face an even tougher task to return to the National League at the first attempt.
Adams said: ‘We still have to play Old Georgians and Sevenoaks at Havant so that’s a positive.
‘But it has certainly made things an uphill struggle for us.
‘We just have to get back on it again at Lewes next week.
‘Old Georgians were very clinical and took their chances and, unfortunately, I think they were given more chances than they deserved.
‘There were a few controversial short corners awarded that simply shouldn’t have been short corners.
‘But they have got the goalscorers in their side who made the most of it.
‘We had six short corners and scored none, while they had six short corners and scored three.’
Havant made a jittery start and fell behind to the first short corner of the match.
A well-worked routine led to former England international and the South League’s leading goalscorer, James Tindall, accepting a slip pass and drilling the ball home with a fierce shot.
Despite the early setback, Havant settled and controlled the game, enjoying long periods of possession, and came close to an equaliser when Mark Janiszewski’s shot was well saved by the home keeper.
But one minute before the interval, Havant went further behind when a clumsy tackle led to an Old Georgians penalty corner – and this time Andrew O’Sullivan was on hand to slot the ball home beyond keeper Sam Percival.
Havant came out for the second half determined to get back into the match and almost had their reward for some sustained pressure when Mike Deller-Merricks hit the post after throwing himself at a loose ball.
But Old Georgians then regained control and made it 3-0 from another penalty corner when Ryan Van Der Reit stepped up to score, before then adding his second of the game.
Havant were denied a possible lifeline back into the contest when they thought they had been awarded a penalty stroke when Tom Murtage’s shot was obstructed
But the decision was overruled by the second umpire 60 yards away.
Their misery was complete two minutes from time when the away defence gifted possession to Tom Doran, who gleefully accepted the gift to fire home and make it 5-0.
Adams, who also introduced new Argentinian player Gonzalo Ayala to the side for a debut, added: ‘I felt we were always in the game so it could have been very different.
‘If we’d have scored, they would have been worried.
‘We were on top for large portions of the game and their keeper had a good game.
‘But we made a couple of sloppy mistakes at the back and we didn’t make the best of our chances up front.
‘Gonzalo didn’t get too much time on the pitch but he needs to bed in as he has only just arrived.’