Stiles ‘proud’ of 10-man Fareham as FA Vase dream ends against Plymouth Parkway
Fareham Town manager Pete Stiles was 'proud' of his players' efforts despite their 5-2 FA Vase third round defeat at Plymouth Parkway.
And the Reds boss insisted the final margin of victory 'flattered' their Western League Premier Division opponents in the tie that was played behind closed doors and switched to a 3G surface at the Devon FA HQ in Newton Abbot.
Fareham were forced to play more than an hour with 10 men after Garry Moody was shown a red card just past the half-hour mark.
Stiles' men looked dead and buried as they trailed 3-0 with Ryan Richards' quickfire double - the first of which came from the penalty spot - and Mikey Williams' strike either side of the break putting Parkway in command.
Substitute Gary Austin, though, struck twice in quick succession to hand Fareham a lifeline.
The visitors were caught on the counter in the closing stages and eventually lost 5-2 – their last two goals scored by Billy Palfrey and Craig Veal, who have played in the Conference South (for Truro) and the Southern League Premier (for Taunton) in recent seasons.
Despite defeat, Stiles said he could not have asked for any more from his players.
He credited his men for how they battled with 10 men for more than an hour in their first competitive fixture since December 12.
Stiles insisted: 'The score really did flatter, we gave a good account of ourselves.
‘It’s not often when we get beat 5-2 and I turn around to my players and say I’m proud of them.
‘For more than an hour we battled a top team with 10 men and there was nothing in the game, the score really flattered (Parkway).
'We gave it everything we had. It’s not ideal, we don’t particularly like playing on 3G, the conditions where we got changed in the stand - it’s not ideal - but that’s the same for both teams.
'We gave everything we had but we were just a little bit short on the day.
‘It is what it is, there’s nothing we can do now, but it’s frustrating.
‘I think against more or less anyone we would have got something - they’re a good side, so credit to them. They were wiser than us.'
Stiles' only criticism of his team was the fact he felt they were a little 'naive' on occasions against a Parkway side who were sitting 10 points clear at the top of the Western League Premier when 2020/21 was curtailed.
The Fareham boss, whose side were looking to take the club into the last-32 for the first time, admitted his men succumbed to some 'wise' tactics from their hosts.
Stiles said: 'The only thing I could say is at times we were a bit naive. Where they’ve been around the block a little bit, they know what they’re doing.
‘We had to go for it and when you can hear their manager telling his team to keep it in the corners with still 20 minutes to go - they were panicking.
‘We just over committed and we got caught.'
Fareham’s next competitive game is the delayed 2019/20 Portsmouth Senior Cup semi-final against holders Moneyfields at Dover Road on Saturday, April 24. The winners face Baffins Milton Rovers in the final.
Fareham: Kempson, Cooper, Tattersall, Galloway, Willcox, Moody, Settle (c), Davis (Woods), J Benfield (Austin), Robbins (Slade), Messenbird.