Title-winners Havant beaten 8-3 after crucial push on Atiq Arshad is not picked up
Havant suffered an 8-3 defeat in their final game of the season against Olton & West Warwicks in the National League men’s conference west.
It was a match that didn’t have anything crucial riding on it for the champions.
They clearly weren’t at their best having secured the prize the previous weekend.
Olton & West Warwicks capitalised to take the victory but it was a game that was much closer than the final score suggested.
Some key moments in the match didn’t go the way of Havant.
Particularly a crucial decision midway through the second half. That was when the score was 4-3 and the champions seemed to have all the momentum in their favour.
The decision took that away.
The home side started the brightly but after Tim Hoare successfully snuffed out a clear opportunity, Federico Bertoni then put Havant ahead from their first penalty corner.
Olton hit back almost immediately from a penalty corner of their own and scored two further goals before the interval.
After Olton hit their fourth in the 44th minute that appeared to be that.
Havant then raised their game with some high speed interplay between the midfield and forwards.
Bertoni scored a second and then Matt Cox hit a fine backhand shot to make it 4-3.
Then came the crucial play. Another fine piece of fast, accurate passing led to Charlie Stubbings putting the ball through to Atiq Arshad in front of goal.
Atiq went to ground as the shove in the back was missed by both officials. Needless to say Olton immediately went to the other end and scored.
As Havant continued to play an open game and carved out more chances, Olton were ruthless in exploiting the gaps that appeared in the Havant defence.
Havant now move onto the first promotion play-off match against Bowden on Sunday, April 7 at the Nottingham Hockey Centre.
The watching Bowden coach perhaps left thinking his team will have an easy game next week. That will be a dangerous assumption to make.
Havant will be focused and they will be looking to regain the excellent form that saw them charge to the league crown – wrapped up with the impressive 3-1 win against Chichester on March 24.
Olton & West Warwicks finished second in the table, three points back from Havant with Oxford Hawks in third position.