By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN were unable to make it three successive home wins on Saturday afternoon as they fell to a narrow defeat against Bemerton Heath Harlequins, losing one-nil to the Wessex League title challengers in front of 351 supporters at Cams Alders. But despite their first league defeat since September the home outfit deserved at least a point against their opponents who had won 8 of the previous ten, but were simply unable to convert any of their attacking openings and were ultimately beaten by a brilliant winner in the second half.
With a strong breeze Bemerton started the game on the front foot and saw their 1st chance after 60 seconds as a pass was played into Danny Young, who advanced towards goal and fired wide of the near post. In their response Fareham did well to settle away momentum with a spell of neat possession and this allowed space for Charlie Cooper to send his looping effort over the crossbar from an angle, both teams struggling with the wind swirling around the stadium as the first fifteen minutes were mostly played in the central midfield areas.
The hosts steadily saw a host of chances soon after as Connor Underhill’s shot had to be saved by the away keeper Patrick Creese via a big deflection off Steve Walker, whilst Josh Benfield flicked the side netting from an angle and Garry Moody headed harmlessly over at a corner on 25 minutes. In sharp contrast Bemerton’s chances came on the counter attack before the half hour as Jamie Beasley dragged wide and Reece Rusher soon forced Luke Deacon into a smart save as Fareham quickly cleared the rebounding balls away to safety.
A quiet period then followed before the Creeksiders saw two big chances before the half time interval, the 1st seeing Arthur Kerton feed Jack Breed, whose powerful curling effort was palmed away by a diving Creese on 37 minutes. Dan Bennett then linked up with Breed and the midfielder’s pacey pass was inches ahead of the stretching Benfield, who picked up an injury to his right knee in the process and was ultimately substituted by Jack Nicholas; the scores remaining goalless at the HT break with Fareham arguably looking the better side.
The Creeksiders were dealt yet another injury blow on fifty-three minutes as Casey Bartlett-Scott was fouled in centre midfield and was unable to continue despite some treatment on the touchline with Ashley Tattersall his replacement, Bemerton also seeing a change in midfield. But it was the Creeksiders who went closest to scoring before the hour mark as Cooper advanced towards goal and narrowly saw his low delivery miss two attackers at the back post; Kerton receiving the first yellow card of the afternoon as the frustration increased.
Moody was booked on sixty two minutes in a moment that changed the game as Bemerton were given a free kick in a dangerous position twenty-five yards out, Rusher waiting for a home player to jump and calmly firing an effort low inside the bottom corner of the net. Now facing their one-goal disadvantages Fareham called up Tom Settle off the bench but it was Bemerton who almost got their second against a stunned home backline, Layton Tulk nearly making an immediate impact as he drove into the left side netting after replacing Beasley.
Another potential twist came when visiting defender Kane O’Keefe was sin-binned on 76 minutes for dissent and Fareham looked to take advantage as Nicholas fed Cooper who fired over the crossbar from long range, before Dan Aitken sent a first time effort wide of the post following good work down the right wing. But it was the visitors who came closest to scoring that killer second goal as a header from a corner was cleared off the line and fell to Tulk firing wide on the rebound; this missed chance not proving crucial as they sealed the win.
Having limited Bemerton to an one-nil deficit the Creeksiders have fallen just one position to sixth in the table after nine matches, but do have matches in hand against teams around them this Autumn as they push for a top five spot. Their next league game will see Graham Rix’s team travel to Hamble Club away next Saturday before hosting Portsmouth postcode rivals Moneyfields seven days later to round out October, but attentions should now turn to a winnable home clash this Tuesday versus Colden Common in the Russell Coates Cup.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN TWITTER: Home midfielder holds off the challenge of Bemerton’s high-press tactic near the touchline as hosts fall to narrow defeat in front of large Cams crowd despite big efforts.