Fareham’s bid to beat the drop in Men’s conference west suffered a serious blow as they sunk deeper into the relegation mire after a 6-1 battering by Team Bath Buccaneers.
With Team Bath pushing for honours at the other end of the table, had Fareham been able to secure any points, they would have been decidedly unexpected.
But slim hopes of an upset were over inside a matter of minutes, as Fareham surrendered by conceding two goals inside the opening exchanges.
And having slipped to a 4-0 deficit inside 20 minutes, they found themselves 5-0 down at half-time with no way back, with only a late Rob Wilson strike giving them anything to celebrate.
It leaves Ben Barnes’ side in serious trouble as one of five clubs separated by just two points at the bottom of the table.
Guildford are bottom of the table on 12 points. But improving Isca picked up another win and are on 13, with three clubs – including local rivals Havant and Fareham – all on 14 points.
The last-placed club will be relegated but the team that finishes second from bottom will face a play-off to stay in the division – and Fareham will be desperate to ensure they are one of the three clubs to seal safety from their remaining three games.
But while Barnes was unhappy at his side’s errors, he believes his men can still secure safety.
The Fareham performance director said: ‘We failed to follow our game plan from the outset, made poor decisions and basic errors.
‘There was no way back for us after gifting Bath the first four goals.
‘Despite this poor performance, our destiny – as far as staying in this league – is still in our own hands.
‘But we have to learn quickly from this performance and put our game plan into practice.’
Their game plan was ripped up in the blink of an eye, as Bath’s England under-21 international, Ed Horler, struck a double.
With Fareham shellshocked, Bath ran riot as Ben Stone made it 3-0 on 17 minutes, before the home side were masters of their own downfall, gifting Tim Davenport the chance to beat George Harris after attempting to dribble out of defence.
Davenport netted his second of the game just before the interval to leave Fareham in the unenviable position of facing the second half at 5-0 down.
But while Bath took their foot off the gas, Fareham also showed some pride, with Wilson pulling a goal back two minutes from time.
Bath still had the final say, however, as Jack Betenson converted a penalty corner in the final action of the game.
Meanwhile, Fareham’s under-18s suffered heartbreak in their National Cup quarter-final as they went down to a 2-1 defeat to Bath.
Callum McInally struck Fareham’s equaliser, but Horler – who later scored twice for the senior Bath side – was the difference, netting both goals.
Ben Cooper and Chris Davey both struck for the seconds, but they eventually went down to a 3-2 defeat to Wanderers.
Ruthless Fareham ladies destroyed Havant ladies II 10-0 to stay top of Hampshire division one.
Emma Jones hit a hat-trick, while Vicki Field (2), Maggie Kinder (2), Emily Masson, Bex Close and Hannah Nicholls were also on target.