Barnes impressed with Cardiff display

Jonathan Potts. 'Picture: Mick Young
Jonathan Potts. 'Picture: Mick Young
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Ben Barnes believes Fareham produced some of their best hockey of the season despite a 3-1 loss at home to Cardiff & Met on Sunday.

Twenty-four hours earlier, the National League conference west side recorded a disappointing 2-2 draw with at the University of Exeter.

And with the University of Birmingham picking up two more points than Fareham, the gap to third place increased to five points.

Barnes was not happy with the level of performance at Exeter but praised the side for upping their game against new league-leaders Cardiff the following day.

‘It was a weekend of contrasting performances,’ said performance director Barnes.

‘In scoring early against Exeter we really should have pushed on but our intensity dropped both mentally and physically.

‘We have set a high standard for the whole season and it was disappointing as we let them back in to the game.

‘Alex Boxall scored a very good individual goal but we did not move the ball quick enough or lead hard enough for the ball after that.’

Barnes added: ‘I have to give the team credit for how they responded on Sunday. Despite the loss we were much improved against Cardiff.

‘The early goal was a little soft but from 10 minutes into the game we stepped up to the challenge and played some of our best hockey of the season.

‘We rattled them and could well have got more out of the game.

‘Jon Potts got on to the end of a really good team goal after some fine work from Daniel Sampey and Ben Hibberd.

‘When it was 2-1, for a long part of the game we dominated – and Cardiff began to complain and get nervous.

‘It would have been very interesting to get back on level terms but it just did not quite happen.

‘As we pressed hard for the equaliser they caught us on the break to win the penalty stroke.’

Fareham took the lead against Exeter after seven minutes through captain Boxall.

However, the relegation-threatened outfit got back on level terms just after the interval, before Daniel Sampey restored the visitors’ lead almost immediately.

Fareham could not hold onto their advantage, though, as Jamie Sones grabbed a second equaliser on 57 minutes.

The Henry Cort side started slowly against Cardiff on home soil on Sunday and conceded after just five minutes.

The visitors extended their lead on 20 minutes through Matthew Pacey after Fareham allowed one of the Cardiff midfielders to break through several challenges.

George Harris saved the initial shot put could do nothing to stop the rebound going in.

Potts deservedly got the home side back in it when Sampey’s cross was expertly deflected in.

But with Fareham continuing to throw players forward, Cardiff counter-attacked and won a penalty stroke that was converted by Mark Whattling.

‘If we can take the intensity and quality from the Cardiff game into our last two matches and on into the Hampshire Cup, I will be happy,’ added Barnes.

‘We are getting closer to the top teams in this league this season, having struggled last year, but we need to see where we can make the jump next season and it starts now.’