Fareham’s winning start to West Conference season hits the buffers against Plymouth Marjon
Fareham’s four-match winning West Conference start hit the buffers with a 2-1 defeat by Plymouth Marjon – the defeat bowling them off top spot in the process.
Chasing the game after two successful Plymouth first half penalty corner conversions, Fareham were unable to master Marjon’s deep press and only had a late Shane Vincent goal as a token consolation.
Fareham’s first defeat has enabled Bristol University to leapfrog into top spot – the west country students drawing 1-1 with Harborne, whom George Harris’s side had trounced 9-4 a week earlier.
Fareham struggled to master Plymouth’s game plan from the off and after Jon Tew gave the visitors a sixth minute lead they were up against it.
Plymouth doubled their lead five minutes before half-time with a Rory Close short corner, leaving Fareham with the proverbial mountain to climb.
It wasn’t until the final quarter that Fareham got things together.
Pushing towards the clubhouse goal, they pinned Plymouth back but only Vincent, with a penalty corner four minutes from time, managed to achieve a breakthrough.
Fareham second team’s five matches in Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 1 have produced an amazing 37 goals – then of them going in their own net (and past Harris) at Croydon a week earlier.
But Fareham bounced back from that 10-0 mauling in Surrey with a 5-3 win over Old Cranleighians, George Davey celebrating his return from suspension with one of the goals.
Chris Tagg converted two penalty strokes to join Nick Knight and Zac Way on the scoresheet.
Fareham Ladies conceded two late penalties to suffer South Division 2 defeat at East Grinstead 2nds.
It has been four seasons since the teams had last met. In the intervening period, Fareham have been promoted whilst Grinstead have gone up twice and down once.
Fareham’s two previous visits saw plenty of goals - 13 ending up in their net - pre-match chaos as everyone tried to avoid being soaked during the pitch watering, and the occasional passing steam train on the Bluebell Line.
This time was different. The railway was two days away from re-opening, the heavy rain meant no additional watering was necessary and goals were in short supply.
As has become the norm, Fareham were minus key players.
Tara Lemon was absent with a back injury, so Rebecca Reavell moved to centre back and Niamh Hannick was also drafted into a defence that was kept busy.
The game itself was slightly subdued with few clear cut chances.
The hosts generally looked slightly the better team and it took some stubborn defending and a couple of good saves from Jilly Tovey to preserve the 0-0 half-time scoreline.
The second half was more even and, as it wore on, Fareham became more dangerous.
From their only penalty corner, midway through the half, Sian Edwards had her initial shot saved but did well to bring the rebound down.
The ball was slipped left to Lydia Jackson and her shot beat the keeper but just passed the wrong side of the near post.
With 13 minutes left, Fareham’s players were stunned when a penalty stroke was awarded against them and JoJo Davis beat Tovey..
Fareham tried to fight back, stung by a sense of injustice, but their hopes were finally extinguished by a second penalty stroke with six minutes to play.
This time it looked more clear cut as a shot from a penalty corner was stopped on the line by a foot, Davis again on target.