Havant winless run continues

Mike Dellers-Merrick, left, and Craig Duffy combined to cancel out the Isca threat on Saturday Picture: Mick Young
Mike Dellers-Merrick, left, and Craig Duffy combined to cancel out the Isca threat on Saturday Picture: Mick Young
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Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant unable to halt Olton counter charge

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Merijn van Willigen believes his Havant side are suffering from a crisis of confidence as their latest defeat sucked them into relegation trouble.

Havant went down to a 4-1 home loss to bottom club Isca, with Ollie Nail’s first-half equaliser appearing to get his side back on track after a winless run in the National League conference west.

But three late goals for the visitors saw them claim the points to leave Havant looking over their shoulders.

Four points now separates them from relegation, while they are only two points above the position that would see them face a play-off to stay in the division.

‘Whether it is a lack of confidence, I don’t know, but we are just not very resilient at the moment,’ said Havant coach van Willigen.

‘When we have any setbacks in a game, they seem to hit us really hard at the moment. We don’t know how to cope with them.

‘From a hockey-playing point of view, we are not in that much trouble.

‘It is the stuff you can’t really put your finger on.

‘When you don’t have that confidence, your approach is slightly different and people are less willing to take a risk.

‘When you get into this kind of rut, you are searching for something and you automatically take a step back.

‘The challenge now is to get ourselves out of this run.’

Although Havant were on the back foot early on, they also had their own moments – going close with a penalty corner, before Mike Deller-Merricks threatened.

But Havant goalkeeper Ben Cowling was called into action soon afterwards, before Isca grabbed the lead in the 15th minute.

After a succession of good moves, Jamie Cook picked up a loose ball at the top of the circle and crashed it past Cowling.

Havant hit back nine minutes later when Nail buried a reverse stick shot, after Sam Broadhurst danced his way into the circle.

That ensured the scores were level at the break, but Havant were lacking in penetration after the restart and their frustrations rose when they were reduced to 10 men after Broadhurst was penalised for a poor tackle.

As a result, Isca struck three times in the final nine minutes as goals from Sam Lynch, Rick McCollum and Tom Whitworth sealed a flattering scoreline for the visitors.

‘With nine minutes to go, it was 1-1, but we hadn’t created too many chances and maybe we should have just taken the point,’ said van Willigen.

‘But we kept pushing for another goal. Then we conceded a soft goal and it broke our spirit.

‘The third and fourth goals were just a product of that.

‘We went into half-time at 1-1 and I felt we were in control of the game.

‘But maybe we need to be more pragmatic and boring.’

Havant face a trip to Birmingham this weekend as they bid to bounce back, and van Willigen wants to see a response.

He said: ‘We beat them 5-0 the last time we played them but we were in the middle of a good winning streak. We need to show some character.’