Havant ended the year on a high and now sit top of the table going into the winter break thanks to a 6-3 win over London Wayfarers on Saturday.
Ady Adams’ injury-ravaged side had to dig deep but took maximum points in south London thanks to a brace from Jonathan Pickett and goals from Maciej Janiszewski, Mike Deller-Merricks, James Speke and Tomasz Nowicki.
The margin of victory means Havant leapfrog rivals Old Georgians to the top of South League premier division one thanks to their superior goal difference.
Both teams are level on 28 points but the Barncroft Way side have edged ahead by one goal as Old Georgians scored one less in their match against Old Cranleighans.
Havant went into Saturday’s game with Pickett, Sandeep Singh, Craig Duffy, Chris Smith and Nowicki all carrying injuries, but with the side down to the bare bones, they were all forced to play.
Second team players Bradley Locke and Will Bond were both called up to bolster the squad.
Nevertheless, Adams’ men got off to a good start and took the lead from Pickett’s first penalty corner of the game.
Their lead was short-lived though, as Wayfarers’ Christian Kortlang equalised from a penalty corner.
The match was less than 15 minutes old when Wayfarers had three players sent to the sin bin in quick succession, handing over the initiative to Havant.
Firstly, the Wayfarers goalkeeper brought down Nowicki for a penalty stroke and was sin binned for five minutes.
The Londoners vented their frustration at the umpire though, resulting in two further players being sin binned for two minutes each.
Despite the distractions, Pickett kept his cool to put Havant 2-1 up and then just before half-time a penalty corner shot rebounded off the post for Janiszewski to make it 3-1.
The second half began much as the first ended, but the home team’s leading scorer Kortlang scored his second of the game to narrow the gap.
The game was marred by a procession of Wayfarers players coming and going into the sin bin, which disrupted their play and allowed Havant to increase their lead further.
Good work from Adam Bloomfield found Deller-Merricks in the penalty area and he scored from a fine angle into the far corner of the goal.
Much to the relief of the travelling supporters, Havant increased their advantage to 5-2 when a shot was saved by the home keeper, only for Speke to dive in and score a good opportunist goal.
London Wayfarers were not finished though, and continued to pose a threat.
From a midfield turnover, Wayfarers ran into the Havant area where Sion Owen made it Havant 5-3 with only minutes remaining.
Havant should have scored once again but were too elaborate with the final passes.
They did eventually get a sixth goal just before the final whistle.
Nowicki was rewarded for all his hard work during the game to get on the scoresheet.
The winter break couldn’t have come at a better time, giving Havant’s players time to recover from multiple injuries. They resume their campaign on January 16 at Old Cranleighans.