Fareham boss hails young guns following Russell Cotes Cup win at AFC Portchester
Pete Stiles hailed his young guns as Fareham kept alive their hopes of a cup double.
The Reds moved into the quarter finals of the Russell Cotes Cup last night with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win at neighbours AFC Portchester.
It was a deserved victory as the visitors had carved out the best chances in the 90 minutes, and should have wrapped up the win in normal time instead of drawing 1-1.
Three teenagers - Ethan Jones, Kelvin Robinson and Archie Willcox - not only volunteered to take spot-kicks in the shoot-out, they all scored.
Robinson - leading scorer for the reserves with 19 goals in 17 games - had only just come on as a late sub prior to confidently firing his penalty past Brad Snelling.
Willcox, just 17, converted Fareham’s winning penalty to set up a last eight trip to lower division Alton.
‘It was great to see those three put their hands up,’ said Stiles.
‘Kelvin hadn’t even touched the ball after coming on. I said ‘are you sure?’ and he said he was.
‘In those circumstances, if players say they’re comfortable taking penalties you have to go with them.’
Fareham also started with youngster Jack Breed - a Gibraltar under-21 international - while another teen, Harris Feltham, was introduced as a second half sub against a strong Portchester XI.
‘I was really, really pleased with our performance,’ said Stiles.
‘We had a few missing - our regular keeper (Dec McCarthy) was away, Connor Messenbird and Gary Austin were suspended, and Lewis Stockford unavailable.
‘I thought we looked the livelier side, we kept the ball better and we moved it better.
‘We squandered quite a few chances, but that’s possibly because we haven’t been playing regularly due to the weather.’
The Royals fielded experienced strike pair Dan Wooden and Jason Parish up front, but neither was given too much joy against centre halves Willcox and captain Garry Moody.
‘Archie Willcox is only 17 and I don’t think he lost a header all night,’ said Stiles. ‘Garry Moody was also immense.
‘Charlie Cooper had a great game on the right. We normally play with wing-backs but we changed it last night and pushed him a bit further forward.
‘He could have had a hat-trick.’
Stiles was forced to play goalkeeping coach Luke Douglas in between the sticks - his first appearance since September.
‘He probably couldn’t walk this morning!’ quipped the manager.