Fareham taste thrashing medicine

By Connor Steel / Photograph by Fareham Town Media

FAREHAM TOWN have been scoring goals for fun throughout September, netting 13 against Christchurch and six versus US Portsmouth last weekend in a series of impressive victories.

But the Creeksiders received a taste of their own medicine in a 6-1 thrashing by AFC Stoneham on Saturday afternoon.

Playing in awful Eastleigh weather the visitors took an early lead but were left silent in the rain after two red cards during the first half, with the hosts taking full advantage to rout their opponents.

It all started so brightly for Fareham as they dominated possession in the first six minutes and took an early lead on the counter attack. After stalling a Stoneham move the ball was played forward by Dan Bennett, with his excellent pass reaching Archie Wilcox racing through the midfield and free to smash a half volley past home keeper Tom Parker-Scott into the bottom corner at his near post. Kai Sterne then fired over from 20 yards after being fed by Charlie Cooper down the left, but this was as good as it got for Town who fell apart shortly afterwards.

Former Fareham striker Callum Laycock was looking dangerous for Stoneham and nearly equalised on the 16th minute when he broke free on goal, only to be denied by a great stop from Dan Kempson in the away sticks. But from the resulting corner the hosts were level as Ben Clarke rose highest and his looping header evaded a defender on the goal-line into the top corner of the netting to equalise on 17 minutes.

It got worse for Fareham moments later as Charlie Cooper was involved in a challenge with the Stoneham right back, who saw yellow. But after catching the home player in the face with his foot, the away midfielder was sent off by the referee after consulting with the linesman. Such was the severity of the injury, the Stoneham player needed facial surgery after the incident that sparked a debate on whether it was accidental or a deliberate act. With an extra man on the pitch it didn’t take the hosts long to go ahead as Diego Romero broke through the defence and sent a composed finish just inside the far post before celebrating in front of the small home crowd of 67 behind the goal.

Just behind the half time whistle Fareham were reduced to nine men as Wilcox was caught out by a ball over the top, with his recovery challenge only awarding Stoneham a penalty. The referee gave the away player a second yellow card to send him off, with salt added to the wounds when Scott Hills smashed the spot kick into the net calmly. The winger also saw a great save from Kempton in stoppage time as the referee blew for the break shortly afterwards with the score 3-1.

Fareham started the second period with a spell of possession that saw Curt Robbins and Ryan Mackney go close, but ultimately this left Stoneham able to use the counter attack to make it 4-1 on 57 minutes. Another Town foray forward was cleared and the defence was outnumbered at the back, with William Wiseman’s cross into the danger area converted by away defender Ethan Jones for an own goal – a finish that really summed up the luck for Pete Stiles’ men over the afternoon.

Just before the hour mark Stoneham made it 5-1 as Laycock collected the ball and ran towards goal, slotting home past a diving Kempson in the Fareham goal. This was a finish that saw the game ended as a contest and forced the visitors into damage limitation mode, sitting back and absorbing the home possession. Substitutions and the weather also led to a slight lull in proceedings with 25 minutes left to play, before Laycock hit the post with a fierce drive and Edward Orvis headed over a corner from the right. Down the other end Luke Slade hit an effort that was brilliantly saved by Parker-Trott in goal, but ultimately Stoneham were dominant with the game seemingly drifting towards its conclusion.

Moments after Jamie Bulpitt had missed a great chance following a counter attack, Stoneham did score a sixth goal with the final kick of the match in stoppage time. Good work down the left allowed the winger advance into space, cutting back to Laycock who made no mistake with a calm finish that skidded off the surface into the bottom corner. It meant that Fareham had suffered their worst defeat since April 2019 when they were thrashed away at Horndean, a result that was confirmed by the referee soon afterwards to end a miserable afternoon for the Creeksiders.

Fareham now face a 10-day wait until they get a chance to put this result behind them due to a fixture change. Their scheduled game versus Denmead on Tuesday night is now cancelled with their opponents pulling out from the Portsmouth Senior Cup, meaning the Creeksiders will receive automatic bye progress into the next round. They will also have next weekend free as the Wessex League has 21 teams, meaning that each side will miss two calendar fixtures, giving Fareham a much needed rest after playing 14 games so far since August 3. Fareham will travel to Blackfield & Langley on October 12, before playing three matches at Cams Alders including their FA Vase tie versus Jersey Bulls in three weeks time.