By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN FC were left frustrated on Saturday afternoon as they were forced to settle for a point against Moneyfields, drawing three-all at Dover Road in another Portsmouth postcode derby. But it could have been better for Pete Stiles’ side in bright and sunny conditions in Copnor, leading twice throughout the afternoon and arguably dominating proceedings; only to be stifled by a late equaliser by the hosts as they lost two points in their race to finish in the top half of the Wessex League Premier.
Moneyfields started the better on a bumpy surface and took the lead after just four minutes as Joe Briggs was fouled down the wing. The free kick was whipped into the penalty area by Elliott Turnbull to deceive the Fareham defence, with Corey Heath rising highest to nod home inside the post for 1-0. It should have been two-nil when Turnbull found Tyler Moret in space, but the striker’s header was safely claimed by new Fareham keeper Tom Price; whilst Briggs also fired wide on 11 minutes for the hosts.
After weathering this early storm the Creeksiders began to show some control in midfield, which helped them to create their first chance in the 18th minute; Gary Moody’s cross finding Josh Benfield whose flicked effort was cleared off the line. But Fareham did equalise three minutes later when a throw-in caused chaos in the area and defender Tom Cain’s header away landed in the left corner for an own-goal; a piece of luck that allowed the visitors to take the lead just sixty seconds later. A loose ball in midfield was gratefully received by Curt Robbins, the midfielder launching a fine effort into the top corner from over thirty yards off the crossbar.
Moneyfields equalised on 32 minutes with their next attack as Fareham’s defence were caught up the pitch, allowing Moret to release Briggs with a brilliant ball over the top; the winger advancing to goal and firing calmly past Price with a lobbed shot to make it two-all. There were also further chances before the break for Fareham as Benfield dragged a cut-back inches wide the bottom right corner, whilst another throw-in from Jones fell kindly to Jack Breed who lashed over the crossbar from 20 yards out seconds before half time.
Moneyfields came out brightly after the interval with Moret driving his effort wide after 47 minutes and Declan Seidon firing straight at Price following a pass from the right side moments later. As the game ticket towards the hour mark frustrations began to flare with some niggly tackles, both teams seeing bookings in a scuffle on fifty-seven minutes following a late challenge on Benfield. But in truth the hosts were controlling the game as Cain went close again as he connected with Turnbull’s cross, his flicked header goalwards landing comfortably in the gloves of Price in the away goal.
Substitutions for both teams either side of the hour signalled a slight lull in proceedings, which helped Fareham to find a measured spell that helped them take the lead on 69 minutes. It came from a long ball over the top to find Benfield in space; the striker making little error in slotting past Moneyfields keeper Callum McGeorge despite the best efforts of the home defender to make it 3-2. This advantage was nearly extended five minutes later as Curt Robbin fired a free kick just past the post whilst Keiron Clark followed up with his shot over the crossbar as Fareham sought a killer fourth.
Further opportunities fell Fareham’s way as Breed saw a low shot parried by Moneyfields’ keeper McGeorge with Robbins unable to convert the rebound thanks to great defensive work; whilst both Benfield and Jones went close with quickfire efforts. This missed opportunities were punished by the hosts on 87 minutes as they equalised to make it three-all, Steve Hutchings collecting a clever reverse pass down the right and the striker made no mistake firing across Price into the net; both sides settling for a point with no notable chances before the referee blew the final whistle.
Coupled with a victory for Hamble versus Amesbury, this result means that Fareham have fallen down to twelfth and sit eight points behind tenth-place Alton in the Wessex League Premier with 10 games left to play. The Creeksiders will now host Cowes Sport on Tuesday night at Cams Alders with an earlier kick-off time of 7:30pm due to ferry timings affecting the Isle of Wight team; before visiting Cockrams next Saturday afternoon to play Shaftesbury. Fareham will then conclude a busy ten days following a three week break by hosting Hamble Club at home, following last weekend’s late postponement due to Storm Eunice.
PICTURED BY MONEYFIELDS FC MEDIA: Two teams clash at Dover Road as they are forced to settle for a point apiece in entertaining three-all draw, the hosts scoring in the final minutes to deny Fareham.