By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN exited the Portsmouth Senior Cup at the quarter final stage on Tuesday night, losing to Hampshire Premier side Locks Heath via a penalty shootout following a goalless draw as the visitors caused a huge upset at Cams Alders. But in truth it was a drab and cagey affair played in front of over 200 spectators on a freezing evening, with little opportunities of note and was ultimately decided with a spot-kick jackpot.
The match started slowly with Fareham dominating possession and thought they had taken the lead on eight minutes when a throw-in from Ethan Jones caught the away keeper off guard, the loose ball falling kindly to Gary Austin who flicked home the rebound. Sadly the referee brought an early end to celebrations as he ruled that there was a foul on the goalkeeper, much to the bemusement of the home contingent.
Attacking momentum decreased as a result of this decision with a series of shots from Charlie Cooper, Curt Robbins and Austin all went wide of goal, whilst several other moves were twarted by the stubborn Locks Heath defence. In response the away side created their best chance on the half hour mark as Bradley Stone’s free kick smashed the woodwork in a let off for Fareham, before David Dunkley fired wide just moments later.
The Creeksiders saw their best opportunity just before the break as good interplay found Cooper in space down the right, the winger’s cross finding Elliott Holmes who fired wide a first time effort from 10 yards at the back post. Keiran Clark was also booked for a late tackle on an advancing Locks Heath attacker, whilst Cooper and Robbins saw shots blocked at source as the referee blew for half time.
The second half started badly for Fareham as they were reduced to ten men when Clark cleared a high ball and despite getting to the ball first, he caught the Locks Heath player in the face and saw a second booking for a red card. This seemed to give the visitors as they created the best chance of an even game on 57 minutes, a good move down the left leading to a ball to Chay Dugan who somehow missed an open goal.
Substitutions for both sides caused a slight lull in proceedings with Josh Benfield seeing his shot flick the side netting just moments after coming on in the 63rd minute. Cooper and Holmes again saw low efforts wide of the post as 10-men hosts seemed the have more energy in midfield, whilst the away winger Connor Johnson fired wide under pressure down the right as he cut inside twenty yards out.
With ten minutes left Johnson was shown a second yellow for the visitors after a foul, levelling up their previous advantage on the pitch. Not that this made much difference as either side tested the opposition in the final moments, Fareham dominating possession and Locks Heath defending in their numbers as the game ticked towards a penalty shootout; a scenario that arrived upon the final whistle.
Fareham didn’t start the shootout well as Holmes saw his penalty saved by the away keeper, whilst Ryan Bath and Jordan Whitely converted for Locks Heath either side of two Fareham equalisers to make it 2-2. But Bradley Stone overcame Simon Stone’s miss by scoring his spot kick, which saw them win the game after Jack Breed and Casey Bartlett-Scott both missed their penalties to seal their defeat.
Fareham will look to recover from this upset as they return to league action, traveling up to Alton on Saturday afternoon for their Wessex League encounter. Another away match versus local team Baffins Milton Rovers awaits the Creeksiders on Wednesday night; whilst their next home game will see them play Southampton-based Blackfield & Langley on Saturday, January 29 at Cams Alders.
PICTURED BY MCMILLANT75: Fareham won’t be welcoming any further Portsmouth Senior Cup teams this season following quarter final exit