By Connor Steel
HORNDEAN FC completed a ‘double haul’ of silverware as they overcame Fareham Town in the Portsmouth Senior Cup Final on Tuesday evening; the Creeksiders conceding an ninety-fourth minute equaliser and then losing the resultant penalty shootout in heartbreaking fashion despite their wonderful display at Fratton Park.
Both teams started quickly under sunny skies and it was Horndean who created the game’s first chance after six minutes when Tommy Tierney’s angled shot was nodded off the line at close range; Ben Anderson further shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Josh Benfield as the Fareham winger tried to break forward at pace.
Anderson then scuffed over for Horndean before the Creeksiders created an opening effort on target through Ethan Jones; the midfielder running onto Casey Bartlett-Scott’s pass but firing straight at Ellis Grant. Another chance for Fareham saw Charlie Cooper’s shot blocked at source before Jack Breed sliced over a follow-up.
A goal was surely coming with opportunities at both ends and it was Fareham who scored the first on twenty-four minutes when Benfield linked up alongside Jones; the latter simply heading home at the back stick after an initial effort was saved by Ellis and the Horndean defence unable to cope with the deep recycled delivery.
The Creeksiders nearly doubled this advantage on thirty-seven minutes when Tom Settle’s cross was flicked just wide by the advancing Benfield before Gary Moody flashed over from a tight angle; Horndean searching for an equaliser before the break as Ethan Gee and Fuzz Kanjanda went close in two minutes of added time.
A tactical tweak was made at the break with Rudi Blankson replacing Gee and this did look to allow Fareham extra space in wide areas; Breed floating his cross into the direction of Settle who dragged over. Soon after a low shot by Bartlett-Scott was saved quickly by Grant before good defensive work denied Breed and Cooper.
Substitutions then followed across both sides going into the last 25 minutes with Fareham continuing to push for a second goal; Moz Dench placing his shot inches wide of the far post and Cooper then brushing the side netting. It was not all one way traffic though with drives by Tierney and Tommy Scutt going close in response.
Proceedings began to become scrappy in the final five minutes with Horndean throwing everything at getting an late equaliser as Sam Hookey and Scutt forced Deacon into good saves down low. And they got their big reward in the 96th minute when Tom Jeffe smashed home a shot from 6 yards out to spark loud celebrations.
This equaliser signalled a penalty shoot-out that started brilliantly for Horndean with both Scutt and Anderson scoring their efforts, whilst Grant saved Jones’ spot kick in-between. Despite Bartlett-Scott, Settle and Ronan Gallaway netting in the aftermath for Fareham; their opponents scored all the remaining penalties to win 5-3.
This encounter ends a long campaign for both teams with contrasting fortunes as Horndean prepare for their new league at step 4 of non-league football after gaining promotion; with Fareham hoping to use this brilliant occasion and performances as a spring-board as they look to build on their current Wessex Premier position.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN FC: Fuzz Kanjanda nods a ball clear under pressure from many Fareham attackers during this Portsmouth Senior Cup Final; which was watched by 1,300+ supporters at Fratton Park.