Royals reign in Farlington thriller

Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Sunday mornings are never dull in Farlington.

120 minutes, five goals, one missed penalty, one own goal, one superhuman goal-line clearance and one red card.

Last weekend's Hampshire Junior Cup third round clash between Purbrook FC and Fareham Royals was jam-packed with incident.

By the time this right royal tear-up had ended – with Fareham netting the winner in extra-time – the rest of the park's pitches were deserted, darkness had fallen and referee Mick Stanbridge was barely visible.

And how the Purbrook players wished the man in black had blended into his surroundings earlier on.

Instead, the official gave Purbrook hitman Sam White his marching orders after just 15 minutes.

The decision – prompted by a two-word reply to what Stanbridge perceived as a dive by the striker – was even condemned by the Fareham players in the ensuing choas.

Right or wrong, the incident simply lit the fuse for a brilliant spectacle.

The game was locked at 1-1 when White saw red, with Fareham's top scorer George Davies nodding in a long free-kick before Jim Payne curled a superb equaliser.

Despite their one-man disadvantage, Purbrook contributed to a brilliant second-half and had the best chances to take the lead.

Clayton Wyle rattled the bar, while towering defender Andy McGuinness missed from two yards out as the Royals came under pressure.

At the other end the Fareham side almost profited from another controversial Stanbridge decision.

Purbrook defender Jason Billing was alleged to have brought down a Royals forward in the box, despite the full-back clearing the ball and coming off injured as a result.

But midfielder Shay Carolan stepped up and dragged his spot-kick on to the post.

Fareham did get their noses in front minutes later when a cross from the right by Louis Hickish was slashed into his own net by McGuinness.

The game looked over but McGuinness turned from zero to hero in the dying embers, diving to head a free-kick into the far corner and fire the game into extra-time.

As the sun set, both teams went for the jugular but the one-man advantage was key.

It was to be penalty villain Carolan who would decide the tie, too.

Making up for his miss in emphatic fashion, he sent a wonderfully dipping 25-yard strike beyond Louis Fenlon.

In the final minute, Fenlon brought himself up for a free-kick but as Fareham broke he was stranded downfield.

Cue forward Shaun Elgar, who sprinted 50 yards to his own goal-line, to fly through the air and head a long range Carolan shot over the bar.

It was a heroic effort but ultimately in vain.