FAREHAM lost 5-4 against Exeter University in a thrilling Halloween fixture in National League men’s conference west on Sunday.
It was a big disappointment especially after the visitors had led 3-1 going into half-time.
Sweetly taken goals from brothers George and Chris Davey, alongside a penalty corner conversion from Jamie Rawlings, were enough to see the away side dominate the first half.
Exeter’s free-flowing passing style was negated by Fareham’s high-tempo pressing and fast breaks.
But Exeter rallied in the second half to score three quick goals and lead 4-3.
However, Fareham dug deep and Luke Cornish finished off a great move to level at 4-4 with barely seven minutes left on the clock to set up a tense finish.
But the home side’s superior fitness told as they were able to fire in a late penalty corner to snatch three points and remain top as the only unbeaten team in the league.
‘It was a frantic game at times’ said Fareham head coach Ben Barnes.
‘We had played our part and deserved to be leading at half-time.
‘But Exeter’s second-half response was very good, and we struggled with their intensity.
‘We played our part in a quality game of hockey, but its gutting to not come away with anything.’
Fareham host bottom-of-the-league Clifton Robinsons in their next game on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Fareham Ladies seconds are flying high and beat title rivals Alton 2-1 at Henry Cort on Saturday.
The deadlock was finally broken by Alice Appleford at a penalty corner.
Her initial shot took a deflection and looped over the goalkeeper, and so Fareham led 1-0 at half-time.
Alton hit back and managed to equalise.
But it was finally left up to Nikki Etherington to break free in the circle and release Nicola Pendleton to deflect the ball past the goalie for 2-1.
Fareham remain top of the Hampshire League division two and will meet Gosport in a derby match next.
– Tom Seebold