Fareham make point in drop battle
Fareham boosted their National League conference west survival hopes this weekend with a battling 1-1 draw with Exeter University.
Jamie Rawlings’ first-half strike had second-bottom Fareham dreaming of an upset over their third-placed visitors.
James Ferguson, though, hit back for Exeter in the second half, before resilient defending saw the home side hold firm for a crucial point.
Fareham started with real purpose and applied a lot of pressure on the Exeter D.
James Seager in the early exchanges forced a double save from the visiting goalkeeper with Rawlings also going close.
On 18 minutes that man Rawlings stepped up to convert a penalty corner to open the scoring and put Fareham ahead.
The hosts continued to maintain the initiative until half time and went in ahead.
In the second half Exeter regrouped and started to get back into the game.
And 11 minutes into the second period, Ferguson was on the penalty flick spot to receive a pass and slot his shot past George Harris in the Fareham goal.
Despite the continuing Exeter pressure Fareham still created three good chances to win the game.
The closest was when Tom Larcombe was unable to turn in a cross at close range.
Exeter won three penalty corners in the last five minutes but were denied by robust home defending.
Fareham coach Ben Barnes said: ‘We started really well and deserved our lead.
‘Had we have taken our chances we could easily have been 4-0 up at half-time.
‘Exeter deserved their equaliser for how they fought back in the second half.
‘I am encouraged by the performance and this was an important point for us and takes us closer to Chichester above us in the table.
‘We have a big game next Sunday away to leaders Cardiff but this performance will give us confidence there.’