A Danny Rawlings double inspired a devastating second-half display from Fareham as they dished out a 5-1 demolition at Guildford in their Men’s Conference West clash.
Rawlings grabbed two second-half strikes as Alex Boxall and Chris Davey added to Robin Jones’ first-half opener to seal the club’s first victory over Guildford in the National League.
While Jones’ effort was cancelled out by Mike Rippon, Fareham took control after the break, with coach Ben Barnes delighted at the increased tempo from his men that Guildford were unable to answer.
Barnes said: ‘We increased our intensity after the break and were able to stretch the game because of the strength in depth we are building in the squad.
‘I was pleased that in the second period we eliminated some of the sloppy errors we made in the first half and hit them with more pace and the use of the aerial pass.
‘Despite a good start to the season there was still a lot to work on to enable the team to compete consistently at this level.’
Fareham were boosted by the news that Guildford’s former Great Britain goalkeeper, Simon Mason, was ruled out through a hamstring injury and to be replaced by Ed Burton-Brown.
But Mason’s deputy pulled off an excellent early save to prevent an own goal, while his opposite number, George Harris, matched that effort to deny Rippon as he went clean through on goal.
After Matt Bull and Seb Carpenter both picked up early yellow cards for Guildford, Fareham almost took advantage.
Shaun Baker looked primed to score from close range, only for a brave interception to deny him – after Ben Hibberd’s effort from a tight angle was saved on the line.
But Fareham didn’t have to wait too long to break the deadlock from a penalty corner, as South African international Jones saw his drag-flick make its way over the line despite attempts to block.
Guildford responded quickly, though, when Will Blockley’s penalty-corner strike was deflected home by Rippon to ensure things were all square at the interval.
The match, however, came to life in a dazzling 15-minute spell from the visitors as they found their best form.
Rawlings started the ball rolling as he coolly controlled to flick home from a narrow angle after James Seager’s strike was only parried by the goalkeeper.
And it soon became 3-1 after a flowing move saw the influential Rob Wilson release Rawlings.
He then fed Boxall, who rounded the keeper and found the net with a powerful reverse-stick hit.
While Jones was sent to the sin bin for a robust challenge, Fareham shrugged off their numerical disadvantage to put the game beyond reach approaching the hour mark of the contest.
Rawlings claimed his second with a deflected cross-shot that found its way into the net via the stick of a Guildford defender.
And it soon became 5-1 when Fareham burst through the Guildford backline. Seager put Boxall clear of a tiring defence, before drawing the keeper and unselfishly, allowing Davey to tap home into an unguarded net.
While Paul Nicholls nearly grabbed a sixth in the closing moments, it did not detract from a convincing first victory of the new league season as Fareham set an impressive standard.