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HOCKEY: Seasiders stretch lead at the summit
WEYMOUTH 7 HAVANT 1
WEYMOUTH put struggling Havant to the sword to finally put some daylight between themselves and fellow title contenders Bournemouth Thirds.
The East Dorset outfit went down 3-2 at Portsmouth Univ-ersity to hand the Seasiders a three-point lead at the summit.
And with Weymouth set to travel to second-bottom Tadley this afternoon, there is a chance they could enhance that lead even further before the Christmas break with Bournemouth facing a tricky home clash against Chich-ester Thirds.
Havant started at a high tempo and put the Redlands outfit under early pressure but it was the hosts that eventually broke the deadlock against the run of play.
Midfielder Matthew Lawes played a one-two with skipper Simon Harvey down the right before carrying the ball into the circle and finding the back of the net with a reverse hit.
Weymouth then won several penalty corners and soon converted their second goal. From the top of the circle the ball was played wide to the right to Steven Membury, who drew a defender and slipped in Daniel Bowles.
Bowles then found Harvey, despite being put under pressure, and the home captain duly swept home at the left post. Havant then replied by halving the deficit and then went on to win several penalty corners as they continued to surge forward.
Some of the umpiring decisions were deemed harsh by the Wey-mouth defence with keeper David Civil picking up a green card for his protestations.
Eventually, Weymouth countered to win a penalty corner of their own and they took full advantage of it.
The planned routine initially broke down but midfielder Matthew Bell then played a one-two with Membury before finishing superbly with a neat flick.
Despite being 3-1 up at half-time, Weymouth knew the job was still not done and as a result came out of the traps at the restart looking to build an insurmountable lead.
They soon stretched their advantage when sweeper Matt-hew Underhill surged through a gap in the midfield. He played the ball wide right to Lawes who, in turn, found Andrew Stiles high and right in the circle.
Stiles lifted the ball over the advancing Havant keeper for Bowles to turn in at the left post.
With a three-goal cushion, the Seasiders then relaxed into the match and largely controlled it from midfield for the remainder of the game.
Any further advances by Havant were kept out with notable resistance coming from full-back Roland Gill and centre-back Michael Westlake.
At the other end of the pitch, Weymouth were pressing well. In one instance, Lawes dispossessed a Havant midfielder and immediately linked up with Luke Drewitt for the young forward’s sixth goal of the season.
Lawes then pounced on a poor Havant clearance and this time fed Membury, who slipped the ball past the advancing keeper for the home side’s sixth of the day.
The final goal again came from Membury, a simpler finish this time provided by Stiles, who showed good close control in the circle.
In fact, Membury would have completed a late hat-trick had it not been for Lawes’ failure to spot him unmarked at the left post.
Man of the Match: Steven Membury
Hampshire Two: Basingstoke II 3 Winchester III 2, Chichester III 8 Tadley 1, New Milton 4 Southampton II 2, Portsmouth & Southsea 4 Southampton Univ III 0 Univ of Portsmouth 3 Bournemouth III 2, Weymouth 7 Havant IV 1.
Bournemouth III v Chichester III, Havant IV v Basingstoke II, Portsmouth & Southsea v Univ of Portsmouth, Southampton Univ III v Southampton II, Tadley v Weymouth, Winchester III v New Milton.
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