Fareham boss reveals top six aim after incredible win against Wessex leaders
FAREHAM boss Pete Stiles revealed his pre-season aim after overseeing one of the most amazing results in recent Wessex League history.
The Reds boss saw his team romp to a 7-1 victory against table-topping Alresford - a win achieved without either of last season’s leading scorers, Gary Austin and Simon Woods.
Instead, two former Paulsgrove players - Luke Slade and Josh Benfield - took the scoring plaudits for a club which hasn’t had too much to smile about in recent times.
‘We are getting players back all the time,’ said Stiles. ‘We played well at Fleet last week and kept it going from there.
‘I’ve still got a few out but that’s the strongest side I could have put out today.’
This is Stiles’ third full season at Cams Alders, having taken over midway through the 2016/17 campaign.
‘It’s got to be one of the best performances since I’ve been here,’ he declared.
‘We were very good - we would have been a match for any team in our league today.
‘But that match is gone now, we have to look forward to the next one - Portchester away on Tuesday. Bring it on!’
He added: ‘At the start of the season I wanted us to finish in the top six. In the last couple of seasons I don’t think we’ve done ourselves justice.’
That is putting it mildly - in 2017/18 Fareham were 16th out of 22 and last season they finished fourth bottom, though in a clustered league they were just six points adrift of eighth place.
Indeed, in 21 seasons of Wessex football after coming down from the Southern League, the Reds have only finished in the top 10 eight times.
They have only twice finished in the top six - fifth in 2003 and sixth seven years later.
Reflecting on the result, Stiles said: ‘I thought we were good enough to win before the kick off, though I wasn’t expecting us to win 7-1.
‘We dominated from start to finish - and their goal was slightly fortuitous in that it went through a crowded goalmouth and took a deflection.’
Talking immediately after the game, he said: ‘What a weekend - we won 7-1, Southampton lost 9-0, Pompey won and England won the rugby.’
No doubt news of Bristol Rovers’ late, late leveller, when it finally reached him, wouldn’t have taken the smile off his face, though ...