CAMS ALDERS saw a third competitive match in just 11 days on Saturday afternoon as Fareham hosted Bashley in the Wessex League Premier, hoping to replicate their 8-0 thrashing of Street in their FA Cup tie seven days ago.
But in sunny conditions the Creeksiders gave their opponents a two- goal lead in the opening 10 minutes, which proved to be a deficit that couldn’t be overcome despite many chances in front of more than 200 supporters.
Fareham made an attacking start and should have been ahead after just three minutes but for the brilliance of Sammy Thompson between the sticks. The Bashley goalkeeper denied Josh Benfield when the striker was put through on goal, before denying Charlie Cooper on the rebound to seal a fantastic double save.
With Curt Robbins’ drive from 30 yards flying inches wide of the post, the home fans were beginning to feel confident they could win. But Bashley had other ideas and took the lead on six minutes, their midfield breaking through after a miskick from the returning Archie Wilcox, who fouled a player before his shot and the visitors were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Ronald Frost who sent Dan Kempton the wrong way for one-nil.
On their very next foray forward, the visitors made it two through great passing down the wing, with a cross into the penalty area being watched by a static Fareham defence. Bashley striker Ryan Hamm was alert to poor marking and simply sidefooted into the bottom corner, with the home side now struggling after just eight minutes of football and needing to chase in warm conditions.
Frustration for Fareham was slowly building as both Josh Benfield and Charlie Cooper were shown yellow cards in quick succession; fans believed that the referee was being harsh given they seemed to win the ball from 50-50 challenges chasing loose balls. But luckily the home side calmed down and began to create a series of opportunities over a 20-minute period.
Dave Parker was unlucky as his powerful effort was blocked at source by a defender, but on 28 minutes the Creeksiders saw a better chance. Cooper again broke free of the away left back and saw his shot saved by Thompson in the Bashley goal, while the rebound from Josh Benfield was mistimed and easily blocked. Garry Moody also headed over the crossbar from a floated free-kick into the box, with Fareham building in confidence and hopes were beginning of a home recovery.
However Bashley weren’t playing a defensive game and fired a warning when Jack Smith ran down the wing before crossing into the box, resulting in Harry Bunce hitting the crossbar from close range on 37 minutes. Sadly Fareham didn’t learn their lesson and they were soon 3-0 down before half time as the visitors pushed forward, with the winger playing a low pass onto the feet of Hamm who fired into the corner of the net.
After a half time rocket and tactical changes from manager Pete Stiles, the home side began to show quick passing and looked to have more chances before the hour mark in search of a route back into the game. Ash Tattersall shot harmlessly wide from 30 yards out and Charlie Cooper hit the crossbar with a fine effort from an angle; the chance being created by Josh Benfield’s floated cross into the far post region of the area with the rebound safely cleared away.
Following substitutions for both sides, Fareham’s next chance came on 71 minutes and it really should have been taken. Callum Benfield played an incisive through ball into the feet of Cooper with just the keeper to beat, but the midfielder’s shot was always rising and nicked the crossbar before landing the wrong side behind the goal.
Although Bashley did have chances in the second half from both Ollie Bradley and Brad Morris, the away side didn’t need to push forward with a three goal advantage. Instead they showed great game management by breaking up play and dealing with the threats as stoppage time began, which is when the visitors finally had a lapse of concentration and Fareham sealed a consolation goal.
On 91 minutes a free kick was won by Charlie Cooper following good hold-up play down the wing, with Bashley stopstopper Thompson only able to palm the set piece into the air. The ball looped into the substitute striker Kai Sterne, who had looked dangerous from the moment he came on, and he smashed the ball into the bottom corner to make it 3-1 with the last notable kick of the match.
Following this defeat and other results, Fareham sit 18th in the Wessex League after two home games – not the ideal preparation for a trip to Portchester in midweek for El-Creekio. After five goals conceded in two games this season, it seems that Pete Stiles has some work to do in defensive areas as the season progresses with the attacking play looking good against Bashley. But it doesn’t matter how many goals are scored if you cannot keep them out, a lesson that Fareham will need to learn and quickly.