Fareham suffer 11-goal thrashing as relegation looms ever closer … Havant’s losing run goes on
Fareham are virtually certain to be back playing Conference hockey again in the autumn after having their South Division 1 lifeline effectively severed in an 11-goal mauling by champions-elect Oxted.
The double figure thrashing which coincided with second from bottom Brighton & Hove winning 2-1 at Havant means that, barring a miracle, Fareham will finish bottom.
But head coach Ben Barnes remains ever optimistic, saying: ‘If we win our last two matches at Havant (Sunday, 2.30pm) and against Team Bath on March 22, and Teddington lose both of theirs (to Sevenoaks and Havant), we will avoid finishing last.’
But it’s a mighty tall order for a youthful Fareham side that has won only twice all season and arguably might be better off developing in either the Eastern or Western Conference next term.
Goalkeeper Rory Kemp felt like a sitting duck in a fairground shooting gallery as Oxted ran in three goals in the first 17 minutes and were 5-0 up by half-time.
Sam Driver had a field day, scoring six of Oxted’s 11 goals as the table-topping Surrey club moved to within one point of the championship.
Fareham’s second team, fighting relegation in the Hampshire/Surrey Regional League, were also thrashed - 5-0 at Reigate Priory.
Havant’s end-of-season woes increased when they slumped to a fifth successive South Division 1 loss.
That was despite taking an early lead against lowly Brighton & Hove, Charlie Stubbings netting in the fourth minute after good work from Atiq Arshad and Jakub Janicki.
Havant keeper Maciej Pacanowski made a smart save followed by Joe Elgar parrying an Arshad effort at the other end.
Havant’s dominance was rewarded in the 17th minute when they won their second penalty corner.
With Federico Bertoni off the pitch, Jonathan Pickett’s shot was just touched round the post by a diving Elgar.
Pacanowski kept out two penalty corners but Brighton levelled four minutes into the second quarter - a spinning ball deflecting in off Pacanowski’s pads.
After a period of extended pressure, the visitors took the lead in the 67th minute when Sam Rose converted at close range.
Matt Boote was presented with a late chance to level, but a fast-moving cross hit his foot and Havant’s chances of ending their losing streak vanished.