Fareham leave it late to prove point

Fareham's Ben Hibberd
Fareham's Ben Hibberd
Luke Cornish snatched Fareham a point at Olton

Cornish grabs Fareham a point in thrilling game at Olton

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Fareham left it late to claim a point from their 4-4 draw with Indian Gymkhana in the Men’s Conference West on Saturday.

Ben Hibberd, who scored two goals on the day, came to the home side’s rescue in the dying minutes – despite Fareham leading 3-1 during the first half.

James Seager and Hibberd scored either side of Warren Souza during a frantic first period, before Shaun Baker added a third for the Henry Cort side.

A Tejinder Hanspal double before the break, plus the completion of his hat-trick after the interval, looked set to give the visitors all three points from the Titantic tussle.

However, Hibberd ensured there would be no losing start for the hosts on the opening day of the season as he came up with the goods four minutes from time to spare Fareham’s blushes.

The home side will have been delighted with the fighting qualities they displayed, particularly after dominating the early exchanges.

And it was during this impressive start that they took the lead for the first time, with Seager firing a low shot to the visiting keeper’s left.

Gradually, Gymkhana started to establish a threat in the game, which was rewarded when Souza fired home with their first clear chance.

Hibberd replied with a goal from close range following a good exchange of passes with Baker – re-establishing Fareham’s advantage.

But they were soon two goals to the good when the impressive Baker made the most of uncertainty in the visitors’ defence to run into the D and drill a reverse-stick shot home.

With half-time looming, Fareham looked well in control.

However, they were punished on the break when Hanspal finished coolly from close range – before he levelled the teams up with his second before half-time.

Hanspal completed a quick-fire hat-trick 12 minutes after the restart, when he completed another Gymkhana breakaway.

Fareham tried to strike back five minutes later but were unfortunate to hit the inside of the post.

Disaster then nearly struck when the visitors were awarded a penalty flick following a foul by keeper George Harris.

Yet he redeemed himself by producing a fine save low to his right to keep the home team in the game.

In the last 10 minutes, Hibberd saw his shot bravely saved by the opposition keeper following a surging run by Seager.

But there was no stopping him with his next effort four minutes from time, which rescued a point for a relieved Fareham.

There was then a chance for the home side to record a dramatic victory with just seconds of the match left to play.

However, Seager’s fierce shot from a penalty corner was brilliantly kept out by the keeper, who produced the best save of the match.

‘It was good to get under way in the league and really see where we are,’ said coach Ben Barnes.

‘We equalised with four minutes to go and very nearly took all three points with a penalty corner after the time ran out.

‘On reflection, though, I think it was a fair result as both teams dominated a half each.

‘They are a dangerous side going forward.

‘And we know we can improve our performance which is encouraging for us.’