Fareham Ladies impress in holding South Central Premier Division 1 leaders Oxford at Henry Cort
Fareham Ladies held South Central Premier Division 1 leaders Oxford to a draw at Henry Cort.
Though goals and clear chances were in relatively short supply, the contest was not lacking in skill, commitment and tension and the outcome was in doubt throughout.
Fareham were missing some key players with Rebecca Reavell and Sian Edwards already confirmed as absent before an injury also ruled out goalkeeper Jilly Tovey. Not for the first time, though, Harriett Handley-Quint proved an able deputy with some important saves.
Oxford came into the match with the stingiest defence in the division, having only conceded three goals in their first seven matches. But Fareham led after three minutes when Sarah Brimyard took a quick free hit, advanced into the area and fired a reverse shot across the keeper and into the far corner.
It was an excellent goal, although there was an element of doubt as to whether the ball had fully gone five yards before entering the 'D'.
Oxford had more of the possession in the first half but found it difficult to breach a stubborn defence until the 16th minute when they were awarded a questionable penalty corner.
The initial shot was blocked but only cleared as far as Katie Litchfield who shot through a crowd of players for the leveller.
There was no drop in intensity in the second half, but there was a shift in momentum as Fareham enjoyed the majority of possession.
Oxford were put under increasing pressure as the second half unfolded as their defensive organisation was severely tested.
Hannah Ward and Hannah Oldham both saw close range shots saved by Louise Kay, while half chances fell to Heather Batten and Katie Paxman from penalty corners.
Fifth-placed Fareham are five points off the top spot which is now held by Marlow. Next Saturday they travel to Berkshire to face Sonning (noon).
*Havant Ladies’ squad was depleted for their trip to Oxford Hawks.
They could only manage the bare eleven players due to illness, injuries and school matches.
Despite that, Havant looked the stronger team from the start but saw an early effort disallowed.
The visitors ended the first half 2-0 in arrears and down to 10 players due to a blood injury.
In the second half, Havant had two players sent off - one for a dangerous shot and another for a heavy tackle.
Oxford completed the scoring from a short corner, while Maddy Peel was voted Havant’s player of the match.