Barnes sets Fareham survival target

Havant under-16s in the national finals (fourth place). 2017

Havant youngsters perform well at nationals

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It’s crunch time for bottom-of-the-table Fareham on Sunday as they entertain the University of Birmingham in their last home game of the season (1.30pm).

The Henry Court outfit head into the match in last position but they will not be giving up hope.

It’s a tightly congested National League conference west division.

The bottom four teams are separated by just one point.

Fareham performance director Ben Barnes is targeting at least four points from the final two games against Birmingham and fellow strugglers Isca.

He believes four would be enough to avoid the drop.

Barnes said: ‘We have two games left, which is six points to play for, and against two teams we know we can beat.

‘But we will have to play at our best. We have control of our own destiny.

‘If we can get four points from our last two games we will stay up.’

Last weekend saw a narrow defeat for Fareham against league-leaders Cardiff & Met – something Barnes hopes to take confidence from.

He added: ‘It gives us a great opportunity to push on.

‘We know we can play with the right intensity.’

The biggest surprise last Sunday was the decision from Barnes to bring himself out of retirement for the final few games of the season.

He said: ‘With Robin Jones going home to South Africa, we needed a little bit more authority in the full-back position, which is where I played during my England career.

‘It was quite hard with the physicality of it and I was tired in the second half.

‘But I was just trying to use as much of my experience as possible.’

Barnes is also looking to bring Rob Wilson and Chris Davey back into the team, in order to find that elusive win.

This Sunday against Birmingham, Barnes hopes their improving defence will be the basis for which the rest of the team can build.

He said: ‘We have got to be hard to score against, that is the foundation.

‘We will play a certain press in order to put them into places where we can win the ball off them and break.

‘But we have to still make sure that we are resolute in our defence.’

Barnes is hoping for a big crowd at Henry Court School to cheer on his side. He believes home support can be crucial.

Barnes added: ‘Hopefully we can get a good crowd behind us to cheer us on.

‘With the amount of support they give us, we have to give them a win.

‘We need to give them something to cheer about, and certainly a home win will give us a good lift.’

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