Fareham draw thriller with university side

John Grice was among the scorers for Fareham
John Grice was among the scorers for Fareham
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Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant unable to halt Olton counter charge

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Fareham were left with mixed feelings after they let slip a two-goal lead but then fought back for a 4-4 draw in a pulsating National League conference west battle at Birmingham University on Saturday.

A flurry of four second-half goals in eight minutes ensured the spoils were shared.

Perhaps both teams will have been left asking questions on how they failed to win the game.

After racing into an early lead through Shaun Barker inside the opening 10 minutes, it was Fareham who looked well in command.

Barker had slotted home the opener after good work from James Seager and John Grice.

That spurred Fareham on to assert themselves as they dominated.

They surged 2-0 up just beyond the half-hour mark when Alex Boxall doubled their advantage.

Boxall’s clever finish for the second goal, lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper, had appeared to put Fareham on course for the points as they reached the half-time interval.

But Birmingham had other ideas and regrouped to hit back just two minutes after the restart.

A good break down the Fareham left flank saw Harry Loxton then finish an impressive move with a reverse-stick effort that gave George Harris absolutely no chance.

With the balance of the game shifted back in the home side’s favour, Boxall failed to take advantage of a great chance to settle Fareham’s nerves.

They were soon left counting the cost as Birmingham then grabbed their equaliser on 44 minutes through Will Byas as the momentum swung in Bimringham’s favour.

Things soon went from bad to worse for Fareham.

They found themselves 3-2 down and seemingly unable to stem the flow against them.

Richard Marshall converted an opportunity at the far post, just short of the hour mark.

It turned the contest around but the drama was only just starting.

Fareham might have been expected to roll over.

Instead they came back fighting, just four minutes later.

Seager confidently rounded the Birmingham keeper to make it 3-3 after combining well with Boxall to create the chance.

Birmingham, however, regained the initiative soon afterwards as a rash tackle was punished ruthlessly as Byas crashed home a short-corner routine to put his side 4-3 up and on course for victory.

But mustering all their reserves of character, Fareham responded yet again.

A quick interchange of short passes down the right channel opened up space for Grice in the D.

He kept his cool to drive the equaliser high into the net.

It completed a breathless passage of play that capped a remarkable contest.