By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN progressed to the next round of the Wessex League Senior Cup as they travelled across to Portland United on Tuesday evening, returning from their longest trip of the season with a comfortable 3-0 victory at the Camp & Satherley Stadium. And this result reflected the 90 minutes for a strong visiting line-up, who dominated both chances and possession for large periods; Callum Benfield, Charlie Cooper and finally Josh Benfield scoring either side of half time to seal their 2nd straight knockout win after thrashing Romsey.
In perfect conditions the Creeksiders started well and created their 1st opportunity as Cooper was fouled for a free kick; Ethan Jones’ delivery ending in a header that flicked just wide of the far post by Keiron Clark on 6 minutes. Moments later Josh Benfield saw an effort over the crossbar after a cross by Saul Thorpe down the right, whilst Arthur Kerton drove his effort straight at Portland goalkeeper Brad Smith; the home striker Liam Sayers going close down the other end with an angled drive as he broke free at pace inside the penalty box.
Portland had a spell of possession but it was the away side who took the lead on 23 minutes with some good pressing play; Cooper and Casey Bartlett-Scott linking up quickly down the wings to reach the lurking Calum Benfield who simply nodded home inside the corner for one-nil. In response the hosts had their best chance of the match as Sam Poole found Greg Borthwick in space following a quick one-two with Sayers, the striker scuffing his first time shot as the ball rolled harmlessly out of play much to the frustration of the home crowd.
It was two-nil to Fareham on 35 minutes as Ashley Tattersall jinxed through the home midfield before finding Cooper; the winger cutting inside and curling his left foot shot inside the far corner to score his 1st of the new season. There were also chances for another goal before half time with youngster Arthur Kerton driving over the crossbar from range and a header from Keiron Clark at an inswinging corner delivery, but the dominating away side were forced to settle for a two goal advantage at the end of an all round pleasing first half display.
The hosts came out with an attacking mindset and saw a couple of free-kicks but didn’t offer any real notable threat as Fareham’s defence stood firm; giving the visitors a platform to attack down the opposite end with all of Clark, Jones and Cooper going close in quick succession. Substitutions for both sides then signalled a lull either side of the hour mark with a home player booked on sixty-one minutes as he misjudged his tackles on Cooper down the right hand side; Josh Benfield going close with a low driven shot that bounced inches wide.
Connor Underhill fired inches wide with his shot before he was replaced by Stuart Morgan in a tactical tweak for Fareham, which seemed to solidify the midfield and push them further forward as the latter saw his efforts from an angle hit the side netting on seventy-four minutes. But three minutes later the Creeksiders did get a deserved third goal as a corner reached Josh Benfield who held off the challenges of two defenders and the goalkeeper, before toe-poking the bouncing ball over the line from close range to kill the contest completely.
There was opportunities for Fareham to add a fourth as Morgan went close with a diving header whilst Jacob Woods flashing wide with his angled effort after being found in acres of space, but credit to Portland as they never gave up despite the scoreline and saw their striker hit an effort straight at Deacon when well placed on 88 minutes in the final notable opening for either side. A slight concern for the Creeksiders came in stoppage time as Thorpe left the pitch with an injury, Graham Rix hoping it doesn’t mar an overwise perfect away night.
With details of the next round still unknown, Fareham return to league action on Saturday with a home game against Cowes Sports; this match kicking off at 3pm at Cams Alders following 2 weeks of relentless cup ties. They will then face US Portsmouth away on Wednesday night and travel to Horndean at Five Heads Park on Saturday (10/09) in two local postcode derbies. In contrast Portland will be hoping for an opening victory of 2022-23 when they host Alresford Town on Saturday before they go away to Pagham in the Wessex League.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN FC: Attacking momentum enables Creeksiders to easy 3-0 away cup victory.