By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN secured their first success since December 2023 and marked a “perfect return” to Cams Alders after a two month hiatus as they hosted Shaftesbury on Tuesday evening; beating their high-flying opponents two-one with a “simply outstanding” performance in front of 178 supporters despite driving rain and strong gusts throughout this game.
The hosts adapted quicker to conditions and saw the first chance after two minutes as Jamie Hosking’s cross found the head of Kieran Clark who ultimately diverted his shot into the hand of Shaftesbury’s keeper Shane Murphy. In response Shaftesbury nearly scored an opener as a hopeful punt caught the wind, only for Jordi Valero to show good athleticism.
Graham Rix’s team broke this early deadlock on fourteen minutes as Cameron Sullivan picked up the ball down the left and cut inside; the winger then unleashing a powerful shot that curled inside the far corner. Both sides soon exchanged possession as proceedings drifted into a lull, with Jack Breed and Brett Pitman equally going close before the half hour.
Shaftesbury equalised after thirty-three minutes when a cross was flicked onto the head of Pitman and the striker made few mistakes in heading home from close range. There was however a large twist before the interval as Fareham were awarded a penalty when Joe Johnson was bundled in the area; the opportunity calmly taken by Hosking to make it 2-1.
It was Shaftesbury who came out quickly upon the restart as Ash Phillips and Tyson Pollard were denied by Valero; the away pressures reduced when Charlie Cooper broke forward to see a shot denied at source. Breed further had a great drive deflected away whilst a series of away corners were cleared from danger; the offside flag then stopping an attack.
Weather conditions were fully playing their “role” and Fareham could have capitalised as a clearance reached Johnson through on goal with two defenders backtracking, but the angle was slightly off-target and allowed a last ditch tackle on 66 minutes. Hosking then ran through a ‘static’ backline and was denied by Murphy’s diving save, as was Lewis Colvin.
Substitutions followed across the two sides with Shaftesbury dominating possession in the last fifteen minutes, but they couldn’t convert their pressure despite a free header for Pitman that somehow flew wide. And frustrations were evident in added time as a visiting player was sin-binned due to ‘dissent’; Fareham seeing Hosking go close before the whistle.
This unexpected victory means that Fareham have maintained the ‘pressure’ on Hamble in thirteenth place but they do have a lot of matches in hand due to weather postponements and other issues. The team will be hoping to build on the 3 points with two big away visits upcoming, first travelling to Bournemouth on Saturday and Christchurch next Tuesday.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN MEDIA: Home defender clears a dangerous corner under pressure from the strikers.