By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN suffered their first defeat of the new season on Saturday afternoon as they travelled to the New Forest, losing 1-0 against Brockenhurst in the Wessex League Premier Division. But this narrow result was arguably not reflective of the whole ninety minutes as the Creeksiders dominated the ball and chances, not being able to take full advantage of a first half red card as the Badgers dug deep in heatwave conditions.
Brockenhurst adjusted quicker to a dry and bouncy surface as they forced the first opening after 8 minutes, a corner finding Joe Chamberlain who fired straight at away keeper Luke Deacon. In response the Creeksiders saw an Ethan Jones throw-in only half cleared and fall into the feet of Connor Underhill who curled just wide, Callum Benfield going close on 15 minutes when he found space for a powerful drive that was parried away.
Home goalkeeper James Mayo further denied another Fareham attack as he blocked Jack Breed’s drive with his legs, whilst Florin Vucan was booked for a late tackle on Underhill after 21 minutes. But despite all of the away chances Brockenhurst actually took the lead after a quieter lull as passing was worked into the path of Jaden Medcraff who fired inside the bottom left corner following a sidestep around the 2 marking defenders.
Mitchell Speechley-Price went close with a curling free-kick before a potentially defining moment arrived on 37 minutes, Vucan fouling Josh Benfield as the last man and seeing a straight red card for his troubles. With a numerical advantage Fareham created two chances before the half time break, Underhill denied by Mayo and Casey Bartlett-Scott driving a low effort wide under pressure as the visitors went into the interval behind.
Two substitutions for Fareham saw an extra level of intensity upon the restart and Charlie Cooper went close after cutting inside on 52 minutes; Jones heading wide from a short corner seconds later following deflection. Bartlett-Scott and Tom Settle furthermore saw efforts saved by Mayo, whilst many petty tackles disrupted the momentum around the hour as temperatures rose further with the sun beating down on the straw-like grass.
The next opportunity came on 66 minutes when a free-kick was flicked into the path of Cooper whose flicked shot drifted wide of the far post, debutant Arty Kerton shooting straight at Mayo minutes later after an incisive pass reached his favoured foot. Down the other end Brockenhurst almost doubled their lead on the break as a long ball found Keiron O’Donnell through on goal and the midfielder’s shot was gathered at Deacon’s post.
From this point Fareham dominated the last 15 minutes of proceedings in a quest for their equaliser, creating many chances that started with Callum Benfield’s scuffed shot hitting the side netting under pressure. Marvin Rogers and Ashley Tattersall, both substitutes, saw efforts saved by Mayo in quick succession whilst a cross in stoppage time was headed over by Garry Moody as a stubborn Brockenhurst defence held on for the win.
The Creeksiders sit ninth in the table after two league games (1 win, 1 defeat) so far in this campaign, which comes alongside two cup victories last week. Their next league encounter is not scheduled for another three weeks when they host Cowes Sports on September 3, with a run of further cup matches to come; including a FA Cup game versus Blackfield & Langley next week at Gang Warily and a FA Vase match versus Romsey.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN FC TWITTER: Away player is tackled by stubborn defender in Fareham’s loss on Saturday, losing one nil on a hot afternoon in the New Forest during summer heatwave conditions.