By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN bounced back into Wessex League Premier action on Saturday afternoon as they hosted Cowes Sports, beating the Yachtsmen 7-2 at a buoyant Cams Alders to make it four straight victories for the Creeksiders in all competitions. In warm muggy conditions the hosts took full advantage of the main scoring opportunities and did most of the damage in the second half that saw seven goals scored across the teams, the visitors looking good in places despite an arguably flattering scoreline in front of just over 200 supporters.
Quickly hitting their stride it was Fareham who created the first opening when Charlie Cooper was released down the right, his pass finding Connor Underhill via Ashley Tattersall with the attacker’s low shot saved by Cowes goalkeeper Ed Hatt. In response the visitors nearly took advantage of a defensive mix-up as Keiron Clark cleared off the line from a corner; this scare spurring the Creeksiders forward to score after a frantic 5 minutes as a long ball forward reached Josh Benfield who beat Hatt and lobbed over the goalline for one-nil.
This lead was doubled on twenty-three minutes as proceedings settled down slightly with Benfield adding his second goal of the afternoon as he saw his initial shot saved by Hatt; showing tenacity to collect the rebound near the by-line and and slotting home from the tightest of angles. Underhill also hit the crossbar with a long-ranger and Cooper dragged wide for the hosts under pressure from the defenders 9 yards out whilst Ji Nash went close to scoring for Cowes but saw his curled shot just wide of the far post from over twenty yards out.
The match passed the half hour with Fareham still dominating the chances, Josh Benfield finding space for a shot that went straight at Hatt from just outside the area and Ethan Jones floating his header wide of the post from a corner. On 44 minutes came a final chance before the interval as Underhill sped past two midfielders with his pass and found the unmarked Benfield, whose shot and save by Hatt caused a frantic pinball in the Cowes area before it was cleared away to relative safety by the defenders to signal the end of the first half.
Cowes responded brilliantly upon the restart as they scored within sixty seconds of the restart, Finley Phillips given too much space and he took advantage to fire past home keeper Luke Deacon from range. But this did spur Fareham forward and they made it three-one after Cooper smashed the crossbar with a driven effort as Benfield’s rebound was further saved sharply falling into the crowded penalty area on 52 minutes, Ethan Fox the quickest to react as he scored his 1st goal for the club; Tattersall also going close for 4-1 before the hour.
A quieter spell featuring substitutes was ended on 72 minutes when Underhill broke through the defence and placed another goal past Hatt at his near post for 4-1. Tom Settle went close for the hosts with his low curling effort before the score quickly became five-one, Cooper’s shot saved by Hatt for a corner that was converted by Jones at the far post to head into the top left corner unmarked; whilst Harrison Dempsey pulling a second goal back for Cowes as he fired home past Deacon into the bottom corner for five-two with eight minutes left.
But Fareham weren’t finished and made it six-two after Eli Ahmad fired wide with a powerful effort for Cowes down the other end, Jacob Wood putting in a great cross to Dan Bennett who smashed the crossbar with an powerful effort; Underhill calmly scoring his second goal of the afternoon. And following another late opening for Bennett, the home striker made no mistake in firing him the seventh goal on eighty-nine minutes; playing an one-two with Gary Austin down the by-line before sweeping home his angled shot inside the bottom right.
This massive victory has lifted Fareham into sixth position in the Wessex League table behind Brockenhurst, who have played two games more than the Creeksiders due to knockout cup matches. Two successive away matches in the league now follow for Graham Rix’s team over the next 7 days as they travel across to United Services Portsmouth on Wednesday evening at Burnaby Road before going up to unbeaten rivals Horndean next Saturday afternoon with a 3pm kick off; Winchester City further awaiting in a Hampshire Senior Cup tie.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN FC: Cowes Sports keeper Ed Hatt tries to stop a striker from scoring his shot, producing many saves throughout the match to stop the hosts scoring more than 7 goals in league tie.