By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN continued their indifferent sequence over recent months as they were blown away by Dorset-based Portland United on Saturday afternoon, losing 7-3 at Cams Alders on a clear but cold afternoon. Despite making a perfect start the Creeksiders were reduced to ten men on the eve of half time with the away side capitalising in clinical fashion to seal another humbling defeat, just one week after easily beating top of the league Horndean five-one at Five Heads Park.
It didn’t take long for Fareham to seemingly continue their form from last weekend, taking the lead within just sixty seconds. A long ball down the right caught the Portland defence off guard and found Kai Sterne running through the middle, who collected the pass and comfortably fired into the corner past a diving Mike Edgar in the visiting goal. This was the only action of the opening ten minutes as the hosts dominated possession, with a minutes’ applause also held for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
Portland slowly came into the game and created their first opportunity after 17 minutes as good play found Liam Sayers firing over the crossbar, whilst Ben Morris shot just wide with a similar move just moments later. An injury ended Sayers’ afternoon with Joel Hewitt, but this didn’t halt momentum of the visitors as they equalised on the half hour; a goal that many felt was coming. A ball caught the Fareham full back out of possession and Morris was found in space, slotting past home goalkeeper into the bottom left corner with a calm and composed side-footed finish.
Morris doubled his tally for the afternoon as good play down the left by Josh Williams found the striker in space with a cut-back, the first time effort curling round a defender into the corner giving Portland the advantage on 36 minutes. Riley Weedon then went close with an shot that was saved by Kempson’s feet whilst Jack Breed shot over down the other end, with a game changing moment on the stroke of half time. In his attempt to win a fifty-50 challenge Ryan Mackey caught the visiting player late without malice, but the referee blew his whistle and showed the Fareham player a straight red card.
Portland immediately took advantage of the extra man after half-time, making it 3-1 on fifty one minutes as Hewitt scored for the visitors; collecting the ball and turning his marker before hitting a low driven shot into the corner. Just before the hour mark it was 4-1 as Morris played a floated cross into the path of Weedon who smashed in a powerful shot past Kempson at his near post from an angle. In response Fareham made a double change and this nearly made an immediate impact as Curt Robbins met Ben Rowthorn’s corner but his effort smashed the post at close range on 62 minutes.
And in the sixty-seventh minute Fareham pulled a goal back as a free-kick was punched away by the Portland goalkeeper, landing on the feet of Josh Benfield whose volley smashed off the crossbar before falling to Garry Moody to simply head over the line with a simple finish. But straight after the restart Portland made it five-two as substitute Matty Burrows waltzed through the home defence and finished easily, just twenty seconds after coming off the bench as the game looked over as a contest with 20 minutes left to play as the floodlights took full effect at a darkening Cams.
But the goals continued as Portland made it six-two as Morris was put through on goal by a fine pass that split the defence, with the striker sealing his hat-trick by comfortably slotting home. A succession of saves by Kempson denied any further damage in a ten minute spell before Fareham added a third goal on 81’; Rowthorn’s deep free kick only cleared to find Benfield who made no error in slotting home. In truth though it was unlikely to change the result despite another chance by Benfield with a shot shaving the post, Portland adding a seventh goal in stoppage time as Burrows hit a rising effort high into the corner to seal a memorable afternoon for the ‘Blues’.
Fareham manager Pete Stiles will be hoping that his team can rectify inconsistency in results and their performances, which has blighted them over recent months as the Creeksiders fell to eleventh in the Wessex League Premier table as it reaches the halfway mark. They will hope to continue good form against Portchester when they play their rivals away on Wednesday for a Hampshire Senior Cup tie before travelling to Amesbury Town next weekend. Home clashes versus Downton in the League Cup and their Premier Division clash with Hamworthy United complete the pre-Christmas build up as momentum continues into a hopeful 2022.
PICTURED BY PORTLAND UNITED MEDIA: Fareham thrashed again in clear skies at Cams Alders