Another remarkable Wessex League Cup quarter-final ends with Fareham edging past Downton in 10-goal thriller at Cams Alders

Fareham Town passed the 100-goal seasonal milestone in another extraordinary Wessex League Cup quarter-final.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 11:25 pm
Stuart Morgan celebrates his first goal for Fareham against Downton. Picture: Martyn White.
Stuart Morgan celebrates his first goal for Fareham against Downton. Picture: Martyn White.

Three days after Moneyfields had drawn 5-5 at Shaftesbury before losing on penalties, the Creeksiders twice came from behind to beat lower tier Downton 6-4 at rainy Cams Alders.

Pete Stiles’ men took their 2021/22 tally to 102 in just 31 competitive games as they set up a mouthwatering ‘El Creekio’ home semi-final with AFC Portchester.

But they were given a series of huge scares by their Wessex Division 1 visitors on a night where only two late, late goals saw Fareham avoid being taken to penalties.

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Fareham celebrate one of their six goals against Downton. Picture: Martyn White.

Stiles made just two changes from the starting XI that had hammered Amesbury 8-0 away in a league fixture at the weekend, with Gary Austin and Archie Wilcox replacing Kai Sterne and Kieran Clark respectively.

Entering the tie as hot favourites, Fareham fell behind after only three minutes.

The goal was a nightmare for keeper Declan McCarthy, who failed to hold what could only be described as a speculative 25-yarder from full-back Sam Dible. The ball slithered away from his grasp on the wet surface and rolled over the line.

Though McCarthy recovered to scoop the ball away, the linesman on the dugout side of the ground flagged that it had crossed the line - though he couldn’t have enjoyed a greatest of angles to make a decision convincingly.

Underdogs Downton celebrate a goal at Cams Alders. Picture: Martyn White

The hosts were level on eight minutes, striker Stuart Morgan playing in his Armed Forces colleague Elliott Holmes to fire a left-foot shot across keeper Matt Fredericks.

Downton always looked dangerous on the break and McCarthy saved with his legs at his near post from Shaun Prentice.

The Wiltshire side were back in front on the half-hour mark with the goal of the match - Prentice providing a left-wing cross which Dan Clark cleverly left for Sam Howe to sidefoot in his 15th goal of the season from 12 yards.

Again, their lead didn’t last long. Two minutes later Fareham produced a nice passing move which ended with Holmes playing in Ben Rowthorn to pull the ball back from a narrow angle for Morgan to net at the near post.

Fareham pair Stuart Morgan, left, and Josh Benfield. Picture: Martyn White

After McCarthy had palmed away a fierce Howe shot for a corner at the start of the second half, Fareham took the lead for the first time.

Stiles introduced Josh Benfield on 54 minutes in place of Austin and within four minutes the striker had been fouled in the penalty box, Rowthorn duly converting from 12 yards.

This time it was Downton’s turn to hit back, Marcel Laptas firing in a low shot from the edge of the 18-yard box.

Back came Fareham, though, with Morgan grabbing his second on 66 minutes - bringing up his side’s century of competitive goals by hammering in a loose ball after Fredericks had come off his line to deny Benfield.

A highly enjoyable tie – unless you enjoy the defensive side of football – still had more twists to come, and seven minutes from time Laptas lashed in his second equaliser.

At this stage, it was anyone’s guess who would go on to win.

As it was, the pendulum swung Fareham’s way in the 89th minute when Morgan was pushed over and a second penalty awarded. With Rowthorn having gone off, right-back Ethan Jones stepped up to put his side ahead for the third time.

Holmes finished off the scoring - the ninth time Fareham have belted six or more goals this season - by receiving a pass from sub Sterne and netting with a low shot in time added on.

Though they ended up conceding half a dozen goals, Downton should be delighted with how they contributed to a feast of entertainment. Though neither manager will be happy with their side’s defensive showing, the Robins were a credit to the second tier of the Wessex with how they approached the tie.

Fareham: McCarthy, Jones, Bartlett-Scott, Settle, Wilcox, Kidson, Holmes, Rowthorn, Morgan, Austin, Breed. Subs used: J Benfield, Sterne, Robbins.

Downton: Fredericks, J Clark, Dible, Kitcher, Mackie, Waters, Butler, D Clark, House, Laptas, Prentice. Subs used: Tyson, Cummings, Gulliver.