Havant win maintains pressure at the top

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Ady Adams felt Havant’s 3-0 win over Oxford Hawks was crucial to maintaining the pressure on the top two in South League premier division one.

Saturday’s victory was their first outing since the heavy loss to Old Georgians a fortnight ago after last week’s game with Lewes was called off.

Two goals from Joseph Brown and a first of the season for Tom Murtagh sealed the points for Adams’ men, who remain seven points behind leaders Sevenoaks with a game in hand.

Head coach Adams said: ‘It was a good workmanlike performance. We didn’t play to our best but we ground out the victory.

‘It was a very important game for us. We have a game in hand over Sevenoaks and Old Georgians, who both won at the weekend, and we would have looked a long way behind them if we hadn’t won.

‘It’s important that we keep getting wins to keep up the pressure.

‘Oxford are a good, well-organised side and if you don’t play well, then you won’t get a result against them.

‘The whole side worked hard to get the win.’

Adams added: ‘We had chances to score more but I thought Oxford played well so 3-0 was about right.

‘One or two players stepped up and took responsibility to give us the result.’

Hawks made a confident start but it was Havant who had the first opportunity to score from their first penalty corner in the fifth minute.

New signing Gonzola Ayala stepped up but flicked the ball into the diving keeper and Mike Deller-Merricks also had an open shot on goal, but his flick was easily saved.

Ray Laly cleared the ball off the line from Oxford’s first penalty corner but it was the hosts who took the lead in the 27th minute when Brown flicked into the netting from Havant’s second penalty corner.

Four minutes later Havant went 2-0 up after Brown converted another penalty corner, this time flicking low into the corner.

Adams’ men were not as dominant in the second period and had to work hard to keep their noses in front after Hawks turned the ball over on several occasions.

They finally established a three-goal cushion after 55 minutes when Craig Duffy made a good run from midfield and passed to Murtagh in the Hawks circle.

Murtagh, who has seen little first team action, showed real class in controlling the ball, dummying a shot and then coolly pushing the ball past the advancing keeper for his first goal of the season.

The remainder of the half saw further chances for both teams in end-to-end hockey, with more falling to Havant than Oxford.

Both teams were down to 10 men at different stages of the half after yellow cards for strong tackles.

There was a chance to make it four from a penalty corner in overtime but Brown was unable to complete his hat-trick as his flick beat the keeper but was taken off the line by a defender.

n Sandeep Singh scored his fourth goal in three games as Jaypee Punjab Warriors edged out Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-2 in the Hockey India League yesterday.

His penalty corner flick on 42 minutes made it 3-1 to the Warriors.

The Havant ace also scored twice in the opening 3-3 draw with Dabang Mumbai and then added to his tally in the 4-2 win over Kalinga Lancers on Sunday.