A grudge match for the 6s today as they faced familiar opponents in Fleet and Ewshot 3s – a fellow newly-promoted team. In last seasons encounters Havant won both games but were hard-pressed to do so and a tough game was expected. Apparently deemed unworthy of the beautiful Pitch 1 at Princes Avenue, the team took to the less enticing Pitch 2 for proceedings. Thankfully, the pitch played better than it looked and aside from the odd dodgy bounce it was deemed serviceable by expert pitch inspector Will Hughes. Aside from this analysis, the pre-match huddle discussed the importance of ball pace and setting an early press – Havant did not disappoint.
To say the team was out the gate quickly would be a grave understatement. Olly Pescott bagged his first of the season with a reverse strike less than two minutes into the game. Mere moments later, Havant recovered the ball in the midfield and fired the ball down the left flank to Will Hughes who fed the ball to Sheff through the middle. Two bites at the cherry were required but Sheff eventually composed himself to grab his third goal in as many weeks. The foot remained firmly on the gas and the exemplary work rate from the team kept a stone-wall press that allowed for two further goals in rapid succession: Will Hughes and AR both netting to make the score 4-0 with 7 minutes on the clock.
A whole 13 minutes passed before the 5th goal; a period punctuated by a plethora of chances for most of the squad that showcased the talents of the “Flewshot” keeper. Finally, a short corner was conceded that was buried by Ben Hegan into the right side – he seems to be making a habit of these! The relentless pressing was continued throughout the course of the first half thanks to the willing legs of the 6s, and to the usual drill sergeant communication from Alex Leach and AR. As the game approached the half hour mark, a Fleet defender was unwittingly forced into a 1-2 with AR who picked the bobbled ball “off his nuts” and crashed his second into the backboard.
As the half came to a close, the press was cracked a few times due to the tiring Havant legs but Flewshot were unable to create anything meaningful. As always, the defensive pairing of AJ and DT were near-impregnable – the odd dodgy bounce apparently no issue for AJ’s keen cricketing eye. Special mention to Alex Leach who unleashed a strike on his reverse that was inches away from being goal of the season – probably a good thing he missed as the top right stanchion would have likely required significant repairs.
6-0 at the half certainly didn’t flatter the team and the effort applied could have yielded more. Jelly Babies were consumed as is custom and a brief team talk can be summed up as “more of the same please lads”.
Due to the significant energy expended in the first half, things were a little tougher in the second. The shape of the press was held but Flewshot inevitably had a little more time on the ball and managed to put a few passes together – even managing to draw a save from goalkeeper Dave Harvie. However, Havant remained in theascendancy for much of the game and added two further goals through both Ben Hegan and Olly Pescott completing their braces. More goals could have been added by a number of scorers and Ben Hegan was denied his hattrick by the post late in the game.
A frustrated Fleet side made a number of agricultural challenges that drew similar responses from the 6th XI, but thankfully no cards to report this week. Dave Harvie’s clean sheet was once again threatened in the dying minutes of the game – again from a short corner. Luckily, they elected not to flick it this week and a well-earned shutout was enjoyed by the team.
The final whistle blew and announced Havant as 8-0 winners, a result that puts the side 2nd in the table for the time being and does wonders for the goal difference.Scorers: Ben Hegan (2), AR (2), Olly Pescott (2), Paul Shefferd and Will Hughes.
MoM: Ben Hegan for another gritty performance and an excellent brace.DoD: Also Ben Hegan, for playing rugby before he turned up and still being the best player on the pitch. That’s not fair.