By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN continued their winless streak to five Wessex League matches on Tuesday night, losing one-nil against fellow mid-table side Hamble Club at Cams Alders. Following two previous postponements of this match originally scheduled for November last year, it was yet another frustrating evening for Pete Siles’ men as they created multiple chances to score and were the better side throughout; only to concede a late winner from substitute Kelvin Robinson with five minutes left to play under chilly but dry skies
It took around ten minutes for the game to warm up as both sides cancelled each other in a cagey midfield battle in which bad passes let down attacking momentum; the first chance falling for the hosts as Charlie Cooper cut inside and fired over the bar from an angle. This gave Fareham a boost and they forced Hamble keeper Callum Lee into his first save on 15 minutes with a curling free-kick, Ryan Mackney blazing his rebound over the bar with a large crowd of over two hundred fansF desperate to see the net ripple for an early goal that would settle any nerves.
Fareham continued this new found gear as Archie Wilcox found Cooper with a pass inside the fullback and the winger saw his shot saved on 21 minutes, with the rebound from Josh Benfield also stopped well by the away goalkeeper. There was also confusion when Mackney was fouled as the referee blew for a penalty but changed his mind for a free kick just outside the box, a decision that many thought was correct; whilst Wilcox saw his header from a corner cleared off the line by Hamble’s Harris Wilson just before the half hour.
Hamble saw quickfire yellow cards given to Charlie Hancock and Mitch Byrne, but they were slowly moving into attacking areas and created their first real chance as Sanchez Mclean saw his lobbed effort clear the crossbar after being found by Callum Kitcher down the right. Harvey Ingledew-Coak and Tom Green also went close, but in truth Fareham saw the better chances in the last moments before the break; Ben Rowthorn firing over after good play down the right whilst Benfield and Curt Robbins saw shots saved with the scores goalless at half time.
Fareham continued to push forward at the beginning of the second period, creating a sequence of chances before the hour mark. It started on 48 minutes as Cooper found Casey Barlett-Scott with a cross down the right, but the shot was deflected over for a corner that ultimately came to nothing; whilst Mackey saw his long range effort blocked at source before another was deflected wide of the goal. Down the other end there was a scare for the hosts as a free-kick found the lurking Green, whose first touch caused a goalmouth scramble that the Hamble forward drove wide with bodies at his feet on 59 minutes.
Substitutions then signalled a lull with Fareham making enforced tactical changes due to an injury to Jack Breed, but the hosts saw the next opportunity on 66 minutes as Benfield saw a low shot saved by the legs of Hamble keeper Lee with Wilcox heading straight at the shot-stopper from the resulting corner. And just moments later the Creeksiders were nearly punished on the break as Green was through on goal, his shot crashing off the bar with home keeper Tom Price beaten in a huge let off.
Frustrations rose for both sides as Hamble were reduced to ten men following a red card; shown to the dangerman Green after the striker threw the ball straight into the face of Benfield in reaction to a foul. The visitors were quickly down to nine men as Charlie Wagstaffe was sin-binned for dissent with nine minutes left, but this didn’t stop them clinching the win with five left to play. It came from a Fareham attack with a long ball incepted and played down the right into space, the winger’s cross easily converted at the back post by Robinson who fired into the bottom corner. This knocked the stuffing out of the hosts and they were unable to create any final opportunities to equalise despite three minutes of added time.
Thirteenth place Fareham will look for a similar performance on Saturday afternoon when they host Alresford Town but employ the finishing touches, hoping to seal their first win since beating Blackfield & Langley at Cams Alders in late January. The Creeksiders then face a welcomed week off before travelling to promotion candidates Brockenhurst on March 19, before hosing the final El-Creekio derby versus Portchester in the Wessex League Cup semi-finals three days later. For in-form Hamble’s next game will see them play the Royals themselves in the league on Saturday afternoon, with a 3pm kick off at the On-Site Group Stadium.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN MEDIA: Despite a heart-breaking late defeat it is all smiles as Josh Benfield is awarded man of the match for efforts by club sponsors Glyn and Jackie.