Havering shock leaders Spalding

PUBLISHED: 12:15 15 November 2016

Paul Dover came out of retirement to help Havering beat Spalding (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Paul Dover came out of retirement to help Havering beat Spalding (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 8450 946026

Spalding 3 Havering 4

Havering produced their best result of the East Premier B season to shock leaders Spalding.

Having struggled in the early weeks of the season, following relegation last term, the club decided to part ways with coach Lawrie O’Keefe at the start of the week and saw Paul Johnson return to the role with immediate effect.

But without captain Harry Jenkins, vice captain Harry Andrews and experienced midfielder Lewis Smith, a squad of 13 made the long trip to table-topping Spalding, with Paul Dover coming out of retirement to help the team.

As expected, the hosts made an explosive start and pinned Havering back in their own half, creating a few half chances before the visitors could get a grasp of possession.

As Havering gradually began to settle, a quick break on the left from Stuart Garnell opened up the pitch and Alex Lee’s high run was picked out.

Lee showed good composure to win Havering’s first penalty corner of the match, but the home keeper made decent saves from Ollie Cipa.

A third corner was awarded and this time Havering took the lead as Dover crashed the ball through the keeper’s legs.

Once again Spalding produced an aggressive full press and it eventually told as from a corner of their own a drag flick found its way past goalkeeper Lee Bennett and Dover on the line.

Havering managed to keep their composure and went through a purple patch, as Chris Dunn chased a ball high in the opposition half and got his reward as he dispossessed the defender and won a penalty corner.

The home goalkeeper again made a save from Cipa, but the ball fell to Dunn who showed great vision to slip the ball to the back post for the waiting Alastair Lewis to slot home.

Havering continued to push high up the pitch and got the reward of another penalty corner, with a well-worked routine finding Adam Lumbers to place the ball inside the near post to give the visitors a 3-1 lead which they protected until half time.

Spalding threw men forward at the start of the second half, looking for a way back into the match, but Havering defended deep in numbers and managed to hold firm in the opening stages.

Their lead was cut to one, though, when a ball deflected off Josh Cipa’s stick, wrong-footing two Havering defenders, and fell to a Spalding forward who calmly rounded Bennett and flicked into the empty yet.

Within minutes Havering restored their two-goal cushion, when a seemingly hopeless ball down the line was chased by Ollie Cipa, who dived to keep it in play on the baseline.

Alex Lee picked up the ball and drove to the top of the D, before slipping a pass towards goal where Cipa got the slightest of touches to take the ball past the home keeper and make it 4-2.

Spalding continued to pour men forward with their dangerous striker forcing two fine saves from Bennett, with Johnson and Jack Barlow on hand to clear the danger.

But the game became close again with Spalding dispatching another penalty corner into the roof of the net with 20 minutes still remaining.

Havering were beginning to tire from the constant Spalding barrage, but with Dover needing a break the Cipa brothers marshalled the midfield alongside Luke Joslin and Adam Willet to limit the home side’s chances to a minimum.

With the clock ticking down it looked as if Havering might hang on, but down to 10 men the home side managed to win one final penalty corner and the ball seemed destined to find the bottom corner, before Lumbers expertly picked the ball on the line and pushed it to safety.

Havering will now hope such a confidence-boosting victory can lift them for three crucial games before the Christmas break, starting with the visit of Waltham Forest to Campion School on Saturday.

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