Fareham have nothing to lose in search for National indoor qualification

Jamie Rawlings. 'Picture: Mick Young
Jamie Rawlings. 'Picture: Mick Young
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Ben Barnes insists Fareham have nothing to lose as they begin a ‘voyage into the unknown’ in division two south of the Indoor Hockey 5s Championship this weekend.

Fareham are hoping to finish in the top three of the competition, and join three other teams from division two north, for the national division two round on January 31 and February 1.

Though it will be uncharted territory for some of Fareham’s players, Barnes still believes they have the quality to get through.

‘It’s a win-win situation for us,’ he said.

‘It’s a great chance to see how good we are but, above all, it’s a sharpening tool for our outdoor game.

‘It’s going to be a voyage into the unknown for many of them because they haven’t played at that level before.

‘I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond to the extra pressure and playing against sides with senior internationals.

‘I still think we will be aiming to qualify. There are going to be teams vastly more experienced than us, but the other side is that most teams won’t know too much about us either.

‘We shall certainly look to be very competitive in that environment and we shouldn’t be going into it with any fear.’

The National League conference west side will have a full-strength side available, as Danny and Jamie Rawlings are back from Wales under-21 indoor duty.

Luke Cornish also returns and joins Rob Wilson, James Seager, Ben Hibberd and George Harris.

Josh Godfrey is unavailable tomorrow but will feature on Sunday.

Fareham were unbeaten in the south qualifying round last month but performance-director Barnes knows it will be a tougher test this time round.

He said: ‘The skill level will be higher, the games will be quicker and teams will be 
more able to punish you for your mistakes.

‘Because of the size of the playing area, those mistakes can very quickly result in goals.

‘The matches are longer too, we’ll be playing 20 minutes each way instead of 10, which is more like the indoor hockey finals that will be televised later this month.’

Barnes’ side will play five 40-minute matches at Fleming Park, Eastleigh, starting with West Herts (2pm) and Hampstead & Westminster (4pm) tomorrow.

On Sunday they face Trojans (9am), St Albans (1pm) and Indian Gymkhana (5pm).

Barnes, who is part of the playing squad for Fareham, knows they will face some tough opposition.

‘Hampstead are a premier division side,’ he added.

‘They have some good indoor players.

‘St Albans have won the national title several times and have a good indoor pedigree. In the 1980s they were the best indoor team in the country.

‘We narrowly missed out to Indian Gymkhana in the south qualifying round last year so that will be a good game to end on.’

They will need to utilise the full squad to get through the gruelling schedule though.

‘The one good thing is we’ve got 12 players to choose from,’ said Barnes.

‘Because of the pace of the game, we will need to do lots of substitutions.

‘It’s going to be a physical test as well as a technical test.

‘The guys are really looking forward to it. We’ve got nothing to lose.’