Havering move into Tier 1 Quarter Finals
By Paul Johnson
A goal from Connor, goalkeeping heroics and penalty flicks.....
Havering hosted Spencer in the last 16 of the Mixed Tier 1 (Cup) competition at Campion on Sunday. Having had success previously reaching the Tier 2 (Plate) Finals in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016 this was the furthest the team had gone in the elite competition and were up against a team who had reached last year’s final.
The scale of the challenge was evident from the start of the match with Spencer dominating possession and restricting Havering to their own half for long spells, chances came and went for the away side due to a combination of strong defending and inspired goalkeeping from Lee Bennett. Just before half time Havering had Pippa Wilson to thank for making a crucial block sending the ball over the bar when it looked as if Spencer were certain to take the lead.
A change in tactics and a positional reshuffle brought about an early change of fortunes for Havering in the second half, almost immediately Paul Dover won the home sides first Penalty Corner of the game. Connor Poulain’s initial shot was blocked with the ball falling to Captain Paul Johnson whose follow up shot was saved well by a defender on the line.
Not long after another foray in the oppositions half and another Penalty corner for Havering, this time a routine at the top of the circle found Poulain with space who made no mistake flicking the ball into the net to give Havering the lead. Spencer from this point continued to press for an equaliser and Havering once again had Bennett to thank for some fine saves. Good work from Adele Sammons and Blaise Copeland earnt Havering another Penalty Corner but a mistake was made at the top of the circle and the chance had passed.
With minutes remaining it looked as if Havering would hold out but Spencer were awarded a Penalty Corner and although the Havering defence kept out the first two efforts a third attempt found its way through and with time over the match went to Penalty flicks.
Spencer was to go first and scored their first two flicks as did Havering with Poulain and Dover finding the net. The third Spencer flick hit the post with Bennett going the right way leaving Harry Andrews to put Havering in the lead which he did. The fourth Spencer flick was put wide giving Harry Jenkins the chance to win the match but the visiting keeper made a good save. Still this meant the away side had to score the final flick to have any chance and fittingly it was Man of the Match Bennett who dived to his right to make the save.
Havering are now down to the last eight in the country and will travel to Horsham on the 22nd April to play for a place in the Finals weekend at Lee Valley on the 2/3 June.