Fareham’s penalty shoot-out win in the Russell Cotes Cup ensures seasonal El Creekio bragging rights over AFC Portchester
Fareham Town ensured seasonal El Creekio bragging rights by knocking AFC Portchester out of the Russell Cotes Cup.
A tie which started on November 15 was finally settled tonight with the Reds advancing to the quarter finals via a 4-2 penalty shoot-out success.
Fareham had already won a Wessex League game 1-0 at The Crest Finance Stadium this season, with the Royals claiming a 3-1 success in the reverse meeting at Cams Alders.
Last night’s tie at Portchester finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, but Fareham could consider themselves very unlucky not to have wrapped the tie up long before Archie Willcox converted their winning spot-kick.
Pete Stiles’ men created the better chances throughout, and deserved to progress to a last eight meeting at lower division Alton.
After a goalless first half, Josh Benfield put Fareham ahead two minutes into the second half, netting from close range following a corner.
Benfield had scored for Fareham in the first tie over two months ago, which was abandoned at half-time due to bad weather with the score also 1-1.
The Reds went desperately close to a second when Simon Woods’ shot was saved by Brad Snelling and Charlie Cooper’s follow-up rattled the bar.
Portchester were level on 68 minutes when top scorer Dan Wooden struck from close range.
The hosts were almost in front when captain Steve Ramsey unleashed a shot from the edge of the penalty area which thudded against the bar.
But Snelling was the busier of the two keepers throughout, and twice in the last five minutes pushed efforts from Benfield and the impressive Charlie Cooper behind for corners.
Fareham went first in the shoot-out and missed their first attempt - Snelling saving Tom Settle’s effort.
But Luke Douglas stopped Rob Evans’ spot-kick before Will Harris and Ramsey both scored.
Ethan Jones put Fareham 2-1 ahead before teenager Patrick Hnath skied his shot well over the bar.
Reds sub Kelvin Robinson - leading scorer for the reserves this season - confidently made it 3-1 before Ellis Martin pulled one back for Portchester.
But that just left Willcox needing to score to put Fareham through, and he did just that.
One bright spot for Royals boss Mick Catlin was the return of midfielder Joe Noakes.
He was playing his first game back since suffering a broken leg in a pre-season friendly last summer.
And that injury came in just his second game back after 18 months on the sidelines with a knee ligament problem.
Portchester are now free to concentrate on their Wessex Premier title bid, while Fareham remain in two cups.
In addition to the Russell Cotes, they are still in the Portsmouth Senior Cup and travel to US Portsmouth Reserves in the quarter finals.