League pillars are crumbling

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The Independent Online

Hounslow and Havant, the two clubs who have so dominated the National League since its inception, are struggling to qualify for next season's restructured 12-team First Division.

Hounslow, who have not won a league or cup game since 19 March when they beat Indian Gymkhana, last Saturday slipped to rock bottom in losing 3- 1 at home to Gymkhana.

For tomorrow's game against pointless Stourport, three first- choice players return who were missing last week: England's captain Simon Hazlitt, goalkeeper Jason Barrow and winger Martin Le Huray but, even with them back, Hounslow will require a change of approach to secure the points. Keith Rowe, the manger, was, nevertheless, in confident mood: "We have sorted ourselves out with a long team meeting and I am quite confident we will come together and will win."

Unlike Hounslow, who looked to recruit established players when their all-conquering side was breaking up, Havant have relied on their own nursery and have some promising young players breaking through. They will, however, be tested by the visit of free-scoring East Grinstead tomorrow.

The East Grinstead coach, Andy Barnes, now in his third year, has also assembled a young side, with impressive strikers in Richard Gibson, Mahmood Bhatti and Stuart Head and the promising 18-year-old Alistair Boyce teaming up in midfield alongside former Oxford University captain Steffan Griffiths.