Striker Wright on for Havant

Havant striker  Nicky Wright takes on the Epsom keeper. Picture: Mick Young 133408-11
Havant striker Nicky Wright takes on the Epsom keeper. Picture: Mick Young 133408-11
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Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

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Nicky Wright netted the only goal of the game as Havant beat Epsom 1-0 in South Clubs’ Women’s League division one.

The striker tapped home a Verity Holder pass after just four minutes to seal all three points at Barncroft Way on Saturday.

However, the hosts should have won by more on their return to league action after the Christmas break.

They managed 13 attempts on goal, including nine short corners, but were left to nervously play out time at the death to protect their slender advantage.

Coach Luke Stone was pleased with the home triumph.

He was particularly encouraged by the way his defence stood firm to claim a third clean sheet of the season.

But the overall display left him a little underwhelmed.

Stone said: ‘Overall I’m happy with the win but I want a better team performance next week.

‘Our defence was outstanding – thwarting a number of potential opportunities.

‘And most coaches would be happy for their team to win nine attacking penalty corners.

‘But to not convert any is disappointing.

‘Let’s just say this week’s training has been sorted!’

While Epsom rarely threatened the Havant net, they did earn two short corners – one in the dying moments of the game.

The Surrey visitors failed to beat keeper Lauren Wake, though, and Stone’s side edged to success.

But the Havant chief had a warning for his charges after the game as they begin to make plans for next season.

‘Although it’s always pleasing to get the three points, it’s important that the girls think about how we are achieving them,’ he said.

‘We are at a point in the season where performances are almost more important than results.

‘Now is a great opportunity to start building for next season as we know we probably won’t go up or down.

‘So by continuing to develop good team principles and play, they can help set themselves up for next season, when they will be playing many of the same teams.’

Forward Jess Bateman produced an impressive display on her first-team debut, taking player-of-the-match plaudits.

Her movement and creativity added an extra edge to the home side’s attacking play.

And on another day, the Havant College student may have opened her account as she went close to scoring on a number of occasions.

Meanwhile, Katie Paxman – fresh from her Great Britain Colleges call-up – was in fine form in the heart of the defence.

And Naomi Brigg was lively and intelligent in her use of the ball in the centre of the park.

Havant remained in sixth spot in the table after their fourth victory of the season.

However, they closed the gap on third place to just four points.