By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN’S long wait for another league win continues for at least another week as they visited the New Forest on Saturday afternoon, losing two-one to high-flying Brockenhurst at Grigg Lane. With a strong away following in sunny conditions the Creeksiders looked to be heading towards a hard fought point against the ten-men Badgers, but were stunned by a late home winner as they continued their losing streak in the Wessex Premier Division since mid-February.
Brockenhurst started on the front foot following midweek defeat against Portchester and created their first chance after six minutes as Alex Haynes forced a good stop by Fareham keeper Tom Price; whilst Ben Dukes fired wide under pressure having won the ball from Ash Tattersall in a dangerous position. Down the other end the visitors had their maidan foray forward when Charlie Cooper found space down the wing and crossed into the feet of Gary Austin, whose low curling shot was blocked by the sliding legs of Connor Ings in defence before being cleared away.
The game quickly turned into a bitty affair after the quarter hour mark with little action of note until the twenty-ninth minute when Brockenhurst won a free kick out wide on the right. The delivery was played into the corridor of uncertainty and seemed to miss everybody in the box before nestling inside the corner past Price’s despairing dive; Mitch Speechley-Price claiming he got the final touch amongst a crowd as he led the home celebrations with the fans.
Buoyed by this opener Brockenhurst created two quickfire opportunities to double their lead with Christie Ward heading over from a corner and captain Brad Magookin driving wide; whilst Fareham were dealt another injury blow as Archie Wilcox dislocated his shoulder and was replaced by Keiran Clark. It was a change that seemed to spark the visitors into life as they saw the last chance before the break as Curt Robbins’ shot was saved by home keeper James Mayo in additional time.
The second period with another Brockenhurst chance as Keiran O’Donnell broke on the left side and fired across the keeper; the shot beating the post when he should have scored. Following up this chance a free kick from Magookin was tipped away by Price at his near post, whilst Fareham saw their own set piece by Ben Rowthorn reach the unguarded Austin who headed safely into the gloves of Mayo from just six yards as he misjudged the flight of the ball in the air.
Another Fareham opportunity arrived on 64 minutes when Cooper, who had earlier received treatment following an off-ball incident, found Casey Bartlett-Scott in space and he fired straight at Mayo with the goal gaping. This missed chance saw changes for both sides that signalled a lull in proceedings until the 77th minute, Austin running through on goal and was brought down by the keeper inside the box for a penalty; a red card also shown to Mayo with twelve minutes left to play.
Up stepped Bartlett-Scott who converted easily to equalise; also going close in the 81st minute when he fired over the crossbar following good work. Moments later Jack Breed’s cross was missed by the sliding Robbins; Dukes collecting the loose ball and running 80 yards up the pitch before firing past Price to give Brockenhurst a second goal. This winner proved decisive despite a late change for Fareham to equalise yet again as Robbins smashed the crossbar with his curling effort from outside the box; the referee blowing his final whistle seconds later to signal another loss.
Despite losing four straight league games since drawing away at Moneyfields and now seven matches without a win, Pete Stiles’ men sit thirteenth in the table after other results went their way on Saturday afternoon. Attentions will now turn to cup action on Tuesday night as they host rivals Portchester in an El-Creekio derby at Cams Alders; both sides hoping to reach the Wessex League Cup final with a huge crowd expected for the semi-final knockout clash.
PICTURED BY PAUL PROCTOR: Two sides face each other in previous league encounter played at Grigg Lane back in autumn 2020, which the Creeksiders won three-two in thrilling match.