FAREHAM Town climbed up to third place in the Wessex League Premier table and bounced back from last weekend’s Alton defeat following a great local derby victory, beating United Services Portsmouth six-one on a dry overcast afternoon at Cams Alders.
But the final score-line definitely flattered the Creeksiders overall as the visitors fell apart with 15 minutes left; Fareham scoring 4 goals in a blazing finale that added the ultimate gloss following a harsh sin-bin decision for US Portsmouth.
With many changes to the starting 11 and legends in the directors’ box, Fareham started on the front foot as Josh Benfield fired wide following great work by Charlie Cooper down the right in the sixth minute. Moments later Callum Benfield fired over the crossbar whilst Gary Austin shot wide under pressure from away defender Connor Saunders in the box; the US Portsmouth defence showing huge determination in the opening fifteen minutes with Fareham dominating attacking moves.
The away defensive rear-guard provided the license to attack for the first time on eighteen minutes, one foray forward that US Portsmouth should have scored. A break from a home corner saw Joe Johnson found in space with the defence outnumbered, but a painful save by Fareham keeper Dan Kempton denyed the striker from scoring. Bouyed by this chance Blu Boam went close on 22 minutes as he dragged an effort wide, before Fareham saw Cooper’s cross clear the crossbar as it drifted from the right side. But a goal was coming and it came after 29 minutes, Fareham taking the lead.
Good interplay saw the ball bounce around the edge of the penalty area, with a deflection rolling perfectly into the feet of Callum Benfield. The attacker let loose with a fine first-time shot that hit the top left corner, leaving US Portsmouth keeper Damien Kelsall rooted to the spot, sparking relieved celebrations for the crowd. However the home fans were silenced on 36 minutes when the visitors got an equaliser, hesitation in the Fareham backline reaching away striker Brodie Spencer who rounded Kempton and tapped inside the unguarded net with a composed finish.
Another blow for Fareham came as Josh Benfield pulled up and was substituted with Ben Rowthorn his replacement, but this didn’t stop the Creeksiders from pushing for a second goal before the break. Archie Wilcox and Cooper went close, while the home side believed a penalty should have been given as Austin was clattered just inside the box on 44 minutes. Down the other end the visitors had a succession of corners but were unable to capitalise, with the referee blowing for half time after one minutes’ stoppage time.
The second period started with Fareham on the front foot, taking the lead on 51 minutes as Dan Bennett found space down the left. His diagonal cross was perfect towards the left wing, with the onrushing Cooper converting inside the bottom corner for 2-1. As the game approached the hour mark both Kai Sterne and Garry Moody seeing chances, whilst the visitors went close to another equaliser when Cam Quirke fired straight at Kempton on 59 minutes.
Such as the intensity of football, it was only natural that the game entered a lull in notable action just after 65 minutes; substitutions and an injury stoppage only adding to this spell that saw Fareham media tweet about a dog barking in the stands. But the match slowly came into life as both Ryan Smart and Charlie Osbourne fired wide for the visitors with 18 minutes left, before Fareham exploded with four goals within the final 15 to improve their goal difference and added gloss to the score-line.
Moments after Ethan Jones had fired over, Fareham made it 3-1 on 77 minutes as Curt Robbins blasted home a cross by Rowthorn. US Portsmouth’s frustrations were growing and a debatable refereeing decision saw their midfielder sin-binned with eight to play, instead going to the changing rooms with less than 10 minutes on the clock. This numerical advantage allowed the home side extra space which they used to devastating effect, making it 4-1 when Robbins doubled his tally as he slotted home an over-the-shoulder pass from Benfield after a free kick down the right side.
On eighty six minutes Callum Benfield further doubled his own tally; his low driven shot with his right foot beating Kelsall via a deflection that unfortunately flat-footed the away keeper. Two moments later and the goal-scoring was complete at six-one, Robbins getting his hat-trick in seven minutes as Luke Slade danced through the away defence using nifty football before setting his fellow attacker up for the finish. A final chance did come for Fareham in stoppage time as Benfield nearly got his own hat-trick, but fired over the crossbar from close range before the referee ended play to put US Portsmouth out of their misery.
A joyous crowd of 236 spectators were mostly understandably delighted with the Fareham result and performance, but felt that the margin of victory was extremely harsh given the 90 minutes throughout. US Portsmouth were arguably unlucky with the sin-bin that changed the game, having fought so well in the preceding 81 minutes, and had definitely not lacked in effort and desire particularly in defence.
Fareham have now scored 36 goals in nine games, becoming the highest scorers in the whole league so far and hoping for more on Tuesday night. Christchurch will be the visitors to Cams Alders for this midweek encounter, with the Creeksiders beating them seven-one just two weeks ago. Next Saturday afternoon Fareham will travel down to Southampton for a tough match against AFC Stoneham, whilst the FA Vase draw on Monday lunchtime will determine their opponents for two weeks’ time on October 9.