Fareham maintain push

Alex Boxall
Alex Boxall
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Matt Cox scored for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland

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Rejuvenated Fareham maintained their impressive form to climb to third in the table.

Performance director Ben Barnes’ side only avoided relegation on the final day of last season, after beating ISCA in a win-or-bust fixture.

Now a 4-0 triumph over Whitchurch on Saturday has left only Team Bath Buccaneers and Cardiff & Met ahead of them in the National League conference west.

It ensures their points tally currently stands at 15 – compared to 17 totalled during their entire previous campaign.

A fifth win of the season was secured through goals from Jon Price, Ben Hibberd, Alex Boxall and Luke Cornish as the bottom club wilted under intense pressure.

Timely, indeed, with a trip to second-placed Cardiff next weekend for Barnes’ men’s latest challenge.

In the meantime, he felt the margin of victory for his dominant team should have been even more clinical.

He said: ‘Probably, the criticism I have is we could have scored more, although before the match certainly I would have accepted a 4-0 win away from home.

‘It was 2-0 at half-time but after the break we really opened up. We had three or four really good chances that didn’t even go in.

‘It was very much one-way, Whitchurch had only two pen corners and one shot that I can remember.

‘So I was disappointed to get just two in that half and we need to convert those opportunities into more goals, something which needs to be worked on.

‘Although that is something to be a little bit critical of, we can take encouragement from the fact we created far more chances than we scored.

‘It is also very pleasing to be on 15 points at this stage. We got 17 during the whole of last season, while had just 10 this time last year, which shows you the difference.

‘That has mainly been achieved through working really hard, the addition of new players to improve the group and young players stepping up.

‘This season the realistic ambition has been to get into the top six, where Bath and Cardiff are the top two by quite a bit, with deeper squads and good pulling power with their university connections.

‘Having won our final game last season to stay up, it has been a very good turnaround, but the remit is to try to get up this league and push on from there. And we are all going in the right direction.’

Fareham opened the scoring through Price on 11 minutes, when he pounced on the rebound from the goalkeeper’s initial save and flicked it over him into the roof of the net.

Then, five minutes before half-time, Jamie Rawlinson produced a penetrating run down the right flank and picked out Hibberd, who made no mistake, sending home a fierce shot to extend Fareham’s lead.

Within three minutes of the restart, the visitors continued their supremacy, with Australian A international Daniel Sampey robbing Whitchurch of possession in their own 22m area and sending Boxall away to coolly finish for their third.

Fareham rounded up the scoring on 64 minutes when they picked up possession deep in their own half, before producing 10 passes culminating in Cornish applying the finish.

Barnes’ team take on Cardiff next weekend, who have won seven of their eight matches so far during the conference west campaign.