No drop fears for Havant coach

Craig Duffy. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (123860-1)
Craig Duffy. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123860-1)
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Merijn van Willigen believes his Havant side are not in a National League conference west relegation fight.

The Barncroft Way side entertain bottom-of-the-league Isca at Havant College on Sunday (2pm) keen to address a seven-game winless run that stretches back to October.

But despite an alarming slump in form that has seen Havant fall to within five points of the relegation play-off places, van Willigen is confident his side can revitalise their season with an overdue three points this time out.

And after putting up a spirited performance last weekend against table-toppers Indian Gymkhana, with Craig Duffy on target before the visitors slipped to a 3-1 defeat, he feels his team is not in need of any radical changes.

Van Willigen said: ‘We played well in the Gymkhana game, we are on the right track.

‘We just need to stop the fluctuations in performance – it is not about changes, it is about performing on the day.

‘We have to rise to the challenge.

‘When we compete we are nowhere near a relegation side.

‘But, then again, any team in this league that does not compete will struggle.

‘I do not feel we are a relegation side – in any meaning of the word.

‘But we are a side that needs to learn very quickly what it takes to get results.’

And an expectant van Willigen has called on his side to move away from danger in this weekend’s must-win game.

He admitted: ‘It is a game we have to win. I can’t simplify it any clearer than that.

‘We play the bottom-of-the-table team at home and against a side that we have already beaten once this season.

‘Isca are on the last-chance saloon, where we are nearly safe.

‘It is going to be incredibly hard, though. They are going to be going for every ball.’

But van Willigen will not be accepting – or making – any excuses for failure.

He added: ‘We need to keep doing what we are doing and the quality will shine through.

‘We need to start making our own luck. Things like motivation and confidence, they don’t really exist. They are just things people just make up as reasons as to why they lose.

‘We just need to play well.’

Meanwhile, Fareham performance director Ben Barnes has called upon his mid-table side to show their technical and tactical qualities at fourth-placed University of Exeter on Sunday (12.30pm).

He said: ‘You know what you get with Exeter, they are very organised and try to play quick hockey.

‘We have got a few things tactically that we can put in to nullify their threats and positives, though.

‘If you let them dictate, you can come unstuck. But there are definitely ways to beat this team as other sides have shown.

‘It is going to be a heck of a test.’

Chris Davey returns to bolster Fareham’s strikeforce but the Henry Cort outfit will be without the services of full-back Robin Jones, who has been called up to play for South Africa.