By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN made it two successive victories in just seven days on Saturday afternoon as they hosted Laverstock & Ford, winning by a three-one margin to maintain their good overall start to the Wessex League Premier. And in truth it was a deserved success for the Creeksiders as they made a blistering opening to the ninety minutes at Cams Alders as all 4 goals were scored in the first forty-five minutes, which paved the way for a calmer second period of game management against an improved away performance after the interval.
The Creeksiders took the lead within sixty seconds when Josh Benfield played an angled ball into the path of Charlie Cooper, whose cross found Jack Breed in space. The centre midfielder started with his back to goal but used his strength to and shot home into the corner via a slight deflection; a lead that was doubled by the third minute of play. Cooper was again involved and his cross found Benfield, whose first shot was brilliantly saved by the Laverstock keeper only for the rebound to be comfortably tapped in the unguarded net for 2-0.
It was nearly three-nil as Benfield shot straight at the goalkeeper after fifteen minutes, whilst the home team were dealt a blow when Ethan Fox picked up a knock to his ankle in a fifty-fifty and had to be replaced with Calum Benfield off the bench. This substitution almost made an impact as he cleared the crossbar through a chipped shot before Fareham won a soft penalty as Ethan Jones was tripped; the same attacker refusing to dwell on this harsh decision and firing it home in the corner to make it three-nil to the hosts after 25 minutes.
Laverstock responded in the final quarter of an hour before half time with quick possession play as Fareham seemed to switch off temporarily; an angled effort flying inches wide of the far post with Casey Bartlett-Scott further picking up a knock in a tackle on the away midfielder. For their credit the visitors never lacked efforts and got a route back into the match on 44 minutes as great play saw a pass reach the path of Russell Jones who slotted home his calm finish in the corner; whilst they were denied a potential penalty in additional time.
Away momentum stalled upon the second period as Fareham regained control with their next opening on 48 minutes as Calum Benfield flicked over a cross from seven yards out; Laverstock goalkeeper Matthew Taylor pulling off a good instinctive save down low from Josh Benfield’s shot just moments later. Visiting frustrations then saw Jordan Matthews booked for 2 minor scuffles that the referee did brilliantly to quickly calm down on the sixty minute mark, warning players that future niggly tackles and petty behaviour would not be tolerated.
The hosts enjoyed a purple patch of openings after the hour mark as a short free kick was played to Cooper who fired over a curling volley from twenty-five yards, before Josh Benfield followed this up with his quick run into the box but saw his show from an angle saved well by Taylor. And the Laverstock goalkeeper was again alert as the Benfield brothers linked up with Calum through on goal, flinging himself to his left at full stretch to tip the ball away for a corner as the visitors made 3 substitutions in their bid to end waves of home pressure.
A couple of minor injury stoppages further signalled a change in approach from Fareham, who seemed to be slowing the tempo throughout the final fifteen minutes of play despite Arthur Kerton firing wide following good play down the right side. Laverstock nearly capitalised on this period as James found extra spaces inside the box and headed over a deep cross from the left side with his volleyed shot flicking inches wide of the far post on 83 minutes; the Creeksiders preventing further opportunities as they absorbed the ball to collect 3 points.
Following other results across the division Fareham have risen up to fifth with five wins and two defeats from their opening seven league matches this campaign so far, scoring a total of nineteen goals and conceding 11 in the process. But although the Creeksiders face 2 away trips to both Portland and Pagham in the Wessex League over the upcoming nine days, immediate attentions will turn to more knockout cup football this week when they travel over to play East Cowes Victoria in the Wessex League Cup on the Isle of Wight (7:45pm).
PICTURED BY PAUL PROCTOR: Home striker prepares to launch a shot on target under sunny and dry skies at Cams Alders, Fareham winning comfortably against their newly promoted opponents in the league.