FAREHAM crashed to a 4-0 defeat at Exeter University as they fell to the bottom of National League conference west.
Performance director Ben Barnes praised the way his side played in the first half as they almost got in at the break level.
They were well in the game but top-of-the-table Exeter struck right on half-time and then added a second quickly after the break.
Those blows proved decisive as Fareham, who missed the injured James Seager, were unable to find a response.
Barnes said: ‘First half we played well and contained Exeter well.
‘They scored at crucial times before and after half-time, which gave them a cushion and confidence.
‘We were beaten by the better side and did miss James Seager, who pulled his hamstring at training.’
The score remained level at 0-0 for most of the first half.
But the home team took the lead one minute from half-time, through Connor Caplan.
Fareham suffered a further set back only three minutes after the resumption of the second half.
Edward Matts extended the hosts’ lead to two as he netted an open play goal.
Caplan was on hand on 54 minutes to convert a penalty corner for Exeter to make it 3-0.
Then two minutes from the end Ben Stevenson rounded off the scoring for Exeter as they continued their title charge with a fifth win from five matches.
Meanwhile, Fareham ladies’ frustrating start to the season continued in South Clubs’ Women’s League division three B.
They slipped to a 2-1 defeat against top-of-the-table Surbiton thirds at Henry Cort on Saturday.
But the hosts were always up against it on Saturday with four key players ruled out.
Despite this, Fareham’s patched-up side started well.
They took an early lead when Bex Close produced an excellent reverse stick finish.
However, they were pegged back shortly before half-time.
A Surbiton penalty corner was deflected past keeper Swati.
Fareham dominated much of the second half.
But they were unable to capitalise on the chances they created.
And they found themselves 2-1 down following a well-worked short corner routine.
The hosts continued to push for an equaliser but were thwarted by a resolute Surbiton defence and goalkeeper.
Fareham coach Steve Lemon was happy with the way his team performed for long spells in the match.
He said: ‘We are competing against every opposition at the moment but the chances are just not going in. It’s extremely frustrating.
‘We were the better team for long periods of this game so have plenty of positives to take into the next match against second-placed East Grinstead.’