Brave Fareham prove they’re up for the fight

David Howes in action for Fareham
David Howes in action for Fareham
Katie Spooner is aiming high for City of Portsmouth Ladies. Picture: Keith Woodland

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Fareham scored four times in a gallant second-half fightback but were unable to salvage a point in their nine-goal thriller against Team Bath Buccaneers.

Three goals down at half-time to the England Hockey League men’s conference west joint-leaders, Fareham scored twice immediately after the restart but were eventually defeated 5-4.

The result leaves Fareham in the second-from-bottom relegation play-off position, alongside fellow strugglers Bournville, who surprised Cheltenham 5-4.

The pair both lie five points clear of Stourport, who have yet to win and are favourites for the automatic relegation spot.

Brave Fareham were left to rue a wasted second-minute chance after opening up the Bath defence.

But Craig Peel drilled his shot on to the outside of the upright with only the goalkeeper to beat.

‘He would have scored nine times out of 10,’ said a disappointed Fareham head coach Nigel Cook.

Predictably, Peel’s miss had a major impact on the game as Bath pierced a nervy home defence to score twice in 90 seconds through Tim Atkins and Matt Ruxton.

Injuries left Cook with few options.

Realistically, he was operating with just 12 players and by half-time Phil Ball had stretched the university’s lead with a 33rd-minute penalty-corner conversion.

‘Never mind the King’s Speech, our guys copped five minutes of Churchill – my version of him, at any rate – at half-time,’ admitted Cook.

‘I left them in no uncertain terms what was expected of them after the break.’

Fareham, unlucky not to claw a goal back through Alex Bennett just before the break, responded superbly.

Peel atoned for his earlier miss by converting a penalty corner and then the impressive David Howes scored a second a minute later.

The next goal would be critical, and it was Bath who got it – ex-Havant hitman Tim Davenport punishing Fareham’s creaky defence to make it 4-2.

When Ball tucked away Bath’s fifth from another penalty corner, it looked like the end for Fareham.

But they showed plenty of character to stage a second comeback.

Peel cut Bath’s lead to 5-3 from a short corner and, in the Fareham dominated period that followed, James Seager fluffed an opening carved out by Charlie Duffell and Bennett had what looked a perfectly-good goal disallowed.

Fareham certainly weren’t finished, though, and 13 minutes from the end Seager made it 5-4 from a penalty corner.

But Bath regained their composure to play out the final stages and secure the points.