Hockey: Cheltenham end losing run with draw against Havant
With time ticking down on the league campaign Cheltenham needed to find something to stop their run of four straight defeats spanning from before Christmas.
After dropping points in the last minute against Havant in the reverse fixture earlier this season Cheltenham knew they could take points from the south coast side and went into the game with a positive attitude and looked to take the game to Havant from the off.
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After a nervy wait to see whether the pitch was ready to play after overnight snowfall it was a good start for both teams with the ball being moved around well but both defences holding firm.
It was Havant though who opened the scoring after a couple of promising attacks.
Cheltenham knew the dangers of the Havant counter attack but gave them two bites of the cherry within a minute and Havant took full advantage.
After missing an open goal, Havant attacked again and a run down the left side of the pitch was meet by some below average Cheltenham defending and the ball across the face of the goal was deflected into his own net by Will Pearce who could do nothing about it due to the pace of the cross.
Pearce though was the one to get the teams back on level terms as he converted a penalty stroke high into the net after Alex Salmon had been cynically fouled just before shooting.
The rest of the half was a good close affair with both teams playing their hockey in midfield but lacking a final bit of class in the circle.
Within two minutes of the second half starting Cheltenham found themselves down to ten players with Jonny Bryan finding himself in the sin-bin for ten minutes after a bad late challenge but it was the home side who responded the best and they took the lead while a player light.
After nullifying attack Cheltenham looked to counter with Tom Cole playing an aerial ball out of defence to James Astley on the half way line.
Astley set off on a brilliant run and was well supported by Salmon who had made a burst ahead of the quick moving forward.
Astley timed his pass brilliantly and Salmon was left with a first time effort that he converted to give the home side the lead.
This could have been doubled within minutes as James Legg found himself free in the circle but the forward could not get the ball out of his feet with Cole waiting square for the pass, and he was closed down by an on rushing keeper. Cheltenham were made to pay and Havant drew level after a fine move down their right.
Cheltenham conceded possession on the Havant 23 and a sweeping move resulted in the Havant forward able to volley home from a good cross.
Giles Rooke saved well from any short corner efforts and this momentum gave Cheltenham the belief they needed to regain the lead. Legg learnt from his earlier mistake and fired early when in the circle catching the keeper off guard as the ball flew through his legs.The game wasn't over though and Havant replied again this time from the penalty spot as Bryan conceded the stroke from close range.
The penalty was converted and Rooke found himself in some pain as his knee buckled under him whilst trying to save the stroke.
A delay of ten minutes followed as Rooke was helped off the pitch and Aaron Blumfield found himself donning the keeping kit for the final ten minutes.
The final spell saw both teams come close with Cheltenham having the better of the chances with the Havant keeping staying big to deny James Astley before Salmons rebound trickled narrowly wide.
In the last two minutes, Alex Hay broke free after a good aerial pass from Matt Fairburn but the powerful striker put his shot wide and both teams had to settle for a point.
Five teams are now separated by two points with Cheltenham travelling to Whitchurch this weekend who are currently lying above the Gloucestershire side via goal difference and the winner of the game could see themselves ease the pressure over the last few matches.