By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN FC progressed in the Wessex Senior Cup on Tuesday evening as they travelled across to the Isle of Wight, comfortably beating East Cowes Victoria 2-0 at the Beatrice Road Stadium, Goals in either half settled this knockout match in which the visitors dominated with effective professionalism and desires on a difficult pitch surface, although they were made to work hard for the victory against lower league opposition with a blustery wind causing some issues throughout the ninety minutes for Graham Rix’s team on the night.
East Cowes started brightly as their left winger Toby Snow advanced forward into a midfield pocket and fired wide after 60 seconds of play before Charlie Marseilles dragged over the bar seconds later from outside the box. In response Fareham’s first opening came in the seventh minute when Josh Benfield chipped the home keeper only to see his shot cleared off the line; this fast opening settling down into a quieter spell with neither side gaining control of possession despite multiple corner balls and good attacking chances down either end.
The Creeksiders steadily started to create opportunities as Ethan Jones saw his powerful effort saved by the goalkeeper before chipping over the bar in the eighteenth minute of play, two long shots by Sam Kant easily gathered by Luke Deacon in the away goal whilst Marseilles also fired over under pressure. In response the Creeksiders saw Ashley Tattersall link up smartly with Charlie Cooper as the latter saw a good shot blocked at source before the left back found Josh Benfield through on goal; his high shot failing to trouble the keeper.
Snow picked up a booking for his late foul whilst Fareham saw Kieran Clark heading inches wide at the back post, the visitors taking the lead on 36 minutes through their next opportunity. It came as a header from Gary Moody that split two defenders to reach Cooper and the attacker shimmied around the keeper before calmly slotting into the net for one-nil. And there was chances for a second before the interval as Cooper forced the East Cowes shot-stopper to dive to his left, whilst Clark headed over the resulting corner to end the first half.
Away changes at the interval saw a tweak to the overall formation, but this didn’t seem to affect them as they saw Calum Benfield drove harmlessly over from a delivery by Cooper down the left wing on fifty two minutes. Down the other end Kada Woodford saw his low free kick brush the side netting from distance after 2 clumsy challenges and their striker headed into the gloves of Luke Deacon from a tighter angle; Fareham taking full advantage of missed opportunities when they doubled their lead just before the hour mark with a next attack.
Dan Bennett collected the ball and played a pass into the feet of Jack Breed, the midfielder lobbing the ball over the outrushing keeper as the shot nestled into the bottom right corner for a two nil advantage. It was a goal that killed home momentum going into the final thirty minutes as Fareham dominated the ball amidst a series of substitutions signalled a stop-start period; Tom Settle and Morris Dench coming onto the field with the latter nearly making an instant impact as he fed Cooper down the right to fire wide via a slight deflection.
Although East Cowes created a late flurry of set-pieces they were unable to break through a highly stubborn Fareham defence in the final fifteen minutes as Fareham pushed for a third goal on the counter attack. They saw two main chances to do this as substitute Casey Grieves’ delivery was met by an effort from Breed that flew wide on the volley, whilst Calum Benfield saw his drive saved by the goalkeeper for a corner that came to nothing; the Creeksiders settling for a professional two-goal victory and clean sheet upon the final whistle.
The Creeksiders advance to the next round where they are due to host fellow Wessex Premier League side Pagham at Cams Alders, with the date yet to be announced. In the meantime they will be returning to league action as they play Portland United on Saturday afternoon (08/10) before they are due to host in-form outfit Bemerton Heath Harlequins seven days later on October 15. Their visit to Pagham, originally scheduled for next Tuesday, has been postponed until late November due to a fixture clash with regional cup competitions.
PICTURED BY FAREHAM TOWN TWITTER: Away players celebrate one of their goals as they win easily in midweek cup tie, showing professionalism to get a good victory against lower league opposition on the IoW.