Havant and Fareham continued their impressive starts to the new Men’s Conference West season with noteworthy results at the weekend.
Fareham made up for their only negative of their campaign the previous weekend – a 3-2 loss at the University of Birmingham – with a creditable 3-3 draw with now second-placed Whitchurch in Wales.
Meanwhile, Havant climbed up to third in the table with a 4-0 win against strugglers Lichfield.
The visitors, initially, did well on their return to Havant College – shading possession in the early exchanges.
But they were unable to make their dominance count, being punished in the 14th minute when Jon Smedley sent a drag flick into the Lichfield net from Havant’s first penalty corner.
The goal did not deter the visitors from playing some attractive hockey, and home keeper Andy Isaacs had to be alert on a couple of occasions as his shot-stopping skills were tested to the limit.
However, it was Havant who came closest to finding the back of the net again when Andy Pett and Tom Murtagh should have done better when well placed.
Lichfield thought they had equalised when Isaacs looked beaten on 34 minutes.
But captain Raj Laly reacted brilliantly to the goal-bound effort to keep it out with a brilliant reverse-stick stop.
This inspired Havant back into action and, after a threatening run by Ben Mackey, Pett was on hand at the back post to give the home side a 2-0 advantage.
After the restart, defender Sam Hatherly, who was later sinbinned for two minutes, deserved better when he beat five Lichfield players before seeing his shot pushed past the post.
Sunny and Pett also went close to extending Havant’s lead.
But that honour fell to Murtagh on 56 minutes when he pushed the ball past visiting keeper Lee Charles after a penetrating run from Sunny.
There was no way back for
Lichfield on 65 minutes when Colin French added to the Midlanders’ agony with Havant’s fourth and final goal of the day.
Despite sealing a draw against previously top-of-the-table Whitchurch, Fareham left Wales believing they could have earned all three points on offer.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Fareham looked destined for their second straight league defeat.
A Craig Peel goal after the break gave the away side hope, but when keeper George Harris was beaten for a third time, defeat was staring Fareham straight in the face.
To their credit, though, Nigel Cook’s side responded brilliantly to the challenge put in front of them.
And when Peel converted for his second of the day from a short corner, it was game on.
The equaliser followed soon after when James Seager found the back of the net.
But Fareham were left kicking themselves at the final whistle after some brilliant saves from the home keeper prevented them from taking the victory and completing their remarkable turnaround.