Rob Wilson’s strike proved little more than a consolation after Fareham slumped to a 4-1 defeat to Exeter University in their latest Conference West outing.
Ben Barnes’ side fell behind on six minutes through Nick Rees, when Fareham frittered away possession in a dangerous area, allowing the Exeter man to take full advantage.
While Fareham dug in, they were undone again just before the half-hour mark when another misplaced pass put themselves under pressure and Ed Carson capitalised to make it 2-0 to the home side.
It didn’t improve after the break as Nick Cooper and Edward Mats eased Exeter into a 4-0 lead.
And although Wilson grabbed a consolation three minutes from time, it leaves Fareham in a battle with several other clubs to avoid the drop.
Fareham are in sixth place on 14 points, but they are just four points above bottom club Isca, who beat Havant 4-1 and have picked up in recent weeks.
Both Havant and Cheltenham are on also 14 points, while second-from-bottom Guildford – who would face a play-off to stay in the division if things stay the same – are just two points behind Fareham on 12 points.
Understandably, there are some worried figures at Fareham as they attempt to preserve their status for next season.
And the latest result left the club performance director Barnes counting the cost of the mistakes his team made.
‘It was another disappointing result for us,’ said Barnes.
‘We regularly turned the ball over to the opposition throughout the game and they punished us.
‘We put in a lot of effort in the game but simply could not establish a foundation that we could play on.
‘The bottom half of the table is now becoming very close, with only four points between five teams fighting to avoid relegation.’
While the first team went down to a worrying defeat, the seconds continued their recent impressive form to stay top of the the Hants/Surrey Regional League.
Alex Baxter and Chris Davey both struck twice to secure a 4-1 win at Yateley, which keeps them top of the table on goal difference.
Callum McInally helped himself to four goals as Fareham’s third team beat Aldershot & Farnham in a high-scoring thriller.
McInally led the way in front of goal but was ably supported from Ben Cotterall, who struck twice in a the 6-4 victory.
Fareham fourths earned a 2-0 win over Poole as David Roche and George Davey grabbed the goals.
And the fifths picked up a 1-1 draw against the Isle of Wight, with Oliver Nicholls on target.
Fareham’s first team will attempt to lead the way this Saturday as several teams in the club play in important fixtures.
The under-14 girls’ team kick things off against Salisbury in a Hampshire Cup clash (10am), before the under-18 boys host Bath in the National Knockout Cup quarter-final showdown at 11.45am.
The first team then bid to fire their campaign to escape the drop when they entertain high-flying Team Bath Buccaneers in an important clash at 2pm.