Fareham are off the mark – and off the bottom of the National Men’s League Western Conference table.
A 3-0 win at Chichester was their first win of the season and takes them into ninth place in the log and above newly promoted University of Bristol, albeit on goal difference, going into the mid-season break.
Relieved Head Coach Ben Barnes emphasised how important the win over Chichester was.
“You could feel the relief in the group afterwards, not just the players and management, but the guys from the club who made the short trip into West Sussex,” he said.
“What was even more pleasing and encouraging was the quality of the performance. “Chichester have some very dangerous players but we kept them quiet by defending as a unit.
“In the past month we have steadily improved, but had little to show for it – against Chichester it was a culmination of the group’s efforts.
“There is still plenty of work to do to avoid relegation, but getting off the bottom and keeping in touch with the teams around us is very significant going in to the Christmas break.”
Fareham took a 22nd minute lead through James Seager and increased it early in the second half with a goal created by the three Rawlings brothers.
Jamie aerialed the ball to elder sibling Danny, who set up younger brother Scott to score his first Western Conference goal.
Seager’s third goal wrapped it up for Fareham, whose second team completed a double over Chichester with their first Hampshire/Sussex Regional Division 1 victory.
George Davey (2), Callum McInally (2), Ben Cooper, Kieran Page and Tom Seabold scored for Fareham, who remain bottom despite their victory.
Sally Gibson notched a hat-trick as Trojans halted a three-match losing run with a 5-3 win at National Women’s League Western Conference strugglers Exe.
Trojans enjoyed a two-goal cushion at the final whistle but their Devon hosts refused to lie down, even having been 4-1 down midway through the second half.
Exe scored first with Helen Bray converting a penalty corner, which Charlotte Cox quickly wiped out to put Trojans level.
Gibson struck twice before the break and when Wiz Mumby made it 4-1, Trojans appeared to be headed for a comfortable win.
But Exe hit back with a Kelly Barrett penalty stroke and a third goal by Emily Mitchem four minutes from time.
Her goal, which made it 4-3, set up an anxious finale, but Gibson’s hat-trick goal in the final phase of play clinched an eventually hard won victory.
Trojans go into the two-month winter break – and plenty of indoor action – in fourth spot – a far cry from the situation in November 2015 when their National League future was very much on the line.
Laura Farrell scored four times as Fareham ladies recovered from the shock of conceding an early goal to nail their biggest victory yet in the South Women’s League with a 9-1 thrashing of winless Worthing 9-1.
They fell behind to Division 3B’s bottom side after just six minutes when Jo Faulkner deflected a Charlotte Waters shot past goalkeeper Swati Singh.
But a hat-trick inside seven minutes by Farrell pointed Fareham towards a third win in four recent games and Worthing to a tenth successive defeat.
By half-time Fareham were 5-1 up, Jo Madeley scoring the fourth and Vicky Field a fifth.
Farrell’s fourth goal and a brace from Bex Close added to Worthing’s agony which was completed when Field scored a ninth goal towards the end.
In-form Trojans II toasted a third straight win and a fourth in five outings when they pulled off a creditable 2-0 win at second placed Surbiton, where Bella Slawin and Kathryn Petch were on target.
Southampton are without a win in four matches after a 1-1 draw with Lewes – Bernie Jones scoring a second half equaliser for the city girls.
Fareham ladies are headed for the mid-season break on a roll having collected seven points from their last three South Women’s League matches, the most recent a 1-0 win over third-placed Wanderers.
An eighth minute goal by Vicky Field won it for Fareham, who host rock bottom Worthing at Henry Cort on Saturday.
Trojans won 6-0 in West Sussex, but a depleted Southampton team went down 4-1 at Wimbledon.
Southampton’s knees were all of a wobble when they spotted heartthrob Ed Sheeran at the ground, but their excitement turned to dismay when the signer strolled off to watch his girlfriend play for Wimbledon’s first team on the adjoining pitch !
Two-down, Southampton got back into the match through Jenny Wagstaff, but as they visitors pushed for an equaliser, they were caught on the break as the Dons scored twice more to win 4-1.
Winchester’s newly promoted second team which won the Hampshire League last season is gradually coming to grips with the increased demands of life in the Regional Division.
A 4-2 win over county rivals Andover has lifted the city side out of the danger zone, with Rob Goodchild celebrating his first senior goal from a penalty corner to give the hosts the lead.
Andover’s counter attacks gave Winchester a few problems, but a second goal by Stuart Swift just before half-time gave his side a cushion to take into the break.
Andover responded with two quick goals after the restart, but Solent University ace Matt Stokes and Rob Richie sealed Winchester’s victory.
Lewis Birch marked his Romsey return with two goals but was unable to steer his side to a precious victory over Southampton, who forced a 3-3 draw. Sam Barcia scored Romsey’s third goal.
Romsey share bottom place with Hamble, who were beaten 4-0 at table topping Croydon & Whitgiftians.
Title chasing Buckingham scored three times in the opening quarter to point Trojans ladies to a third successive National Women’s League Western Conference defeat.
Alex Naughalty and Lottie Porter converted penalty corners either side of a second goal from free play from Kat Nicholson.
Trojans enjoyed their best spell in the period leading up to half-time, with Sally Gibson off target and four short corners being wasted, ironically when neither of their ‘specialists’ Gibson or Charlotte Cox were on the pitch.
The Stoneham girls thought they might have been awarded a penalty stroke when a Buckingham defender appeared to stop the ball on the line.
Their protests were waved away and once Abbie Bryant made it 4-0 midway through the second half, it was all over.
Fareham produced arguably their best performance of the season, but despite twice taking a first half lead against Cardiff & Met, were eventually beaten 3-2 by the National League Western Conference title favourites.
They belied their winless, bottom of the table status with an exhilarating performance, which clearly rattled Cardiff.
But come the final whistle, a seventh defeat in nine matches has left them in the automatic relegation position, trailing newly promoted University of Bristol by three points.
That gap would have been wider had Fair Oak-based Martin Gough not scored twice in the last nine minutes to rescue a 3-3 draw for Chichester against the Bristol students.
Head Coach Ben Barnes reflected: “The defeat was disappointing, but the way we played against the best team in the league was very encouraging.
“We attacked with conviction and good numbers, put Cardiff under pressure when we managed the ball well and had good opportunities to score.
“We were good for our 2-1 lead at half time, but Cardiff came out and did show why they are top of the league - but at 2-2 we had a couple of good chances and had them on the back foot.
“The commitment of the team could not be questioned and we need to take that fighting spirit in to Sunday’s visit to Chichester.”
Fareham survived an early penalty corner which Luke Hawker screamed fractionally too high and took a 12th minute lead from a penalty stroke.
Cardiff were fortune not to concede a stroke when James Seager was taken out from behind but from the resulting penalty corner, Alex Boxall had a shot blocked by the upright.
Seager sent goalkeeper James Fortnam the wrong way from the stroke.
Cardiff struck the Fareham post, but were largely on the back foot – until James Kyriakades levelled after a set piece.
Undeterred, Fareham hit back and after Boxall’s shot had been saved, Rob Wilson followed up to give the Henry Cort hosts an unexpected interval lead.
George Harris pulled off several fine saves as Cardiff stepped up the second half pressure – their endeavours being rewarded with a reverse stick equaliser by Jack Pritchard.
Twice Fareham got away on the break, with Australian Sasha Thomas denied.
But Cardiff made their chances count and midway through the half Ioan Wall converted a short corner to give the Welshmen a 3-2 victory.
It was a disappointing outcome for Fareham, whose performance deserved better rewards.
Winchester needed a late Ben Hibberd equaliser to stave off defeat at lowly Purley Walcountians, where a 2-2 draw led to them conceding top spot in South Hockey League Premier Division 2.
Despite being handicapped by severe traffic problems in Surrey, Winchester took a 1-0 lead pst the interval, but found themselves chasing the game after frittering away a series of chances. Profligate finishing almost cost them dear.
Winchester’s early domination was underlined by a Harry Talks strike, but former skipper Kevin Boniface suffered a nasty head injury and, having missed a large chunk of the game, underwent hospital treatment.
Winchester continued to boss the game, but chances continue to go astray, with the influential Martin Harris twice going close in a frustrating period.
The visitors paid a heavy price as Andrew Baggs and Chris Jones scored to give Purley a 2-1 lead with five minutes left.
The clock was running down when Winchester eventually hit the target - Adam Tollefsen making a superb interception before setting up a move between Kieran Malloy and Harris, who set up the equaliser for Hibberd with just two minutes left.
Oxford University beat Bournemouth 4-2 to slip into top spot, while Trojans trimmed visiting Ashford 3-1 with Dan Ferrier scoring his fifth goal of the season.
Richard Aves and Ben Frost also hit the target.
Winchester warmed up for Saturday’s Stoneham Lane derby against Trojans with a 6-1 win over Holcombe – a result which swept them back to the top of South Hockey League Premier Division 2.
The city side take a one-point advantage into the Trojans game – overnight leaders Oxford University having only managed a 1-1 draw with basement side Staines.
Winchester bossed things from the start, with the influential Adam Tollefsen playing the ball into Martin Harris, who turned two defenders before opening the scoring.
The new leaders took full control of the game immediately before half-time when they won the ball in midfield and former international Rob Moore scored after Shaun Baker had lobbed the Holcombe goalkeeper.
Winchester continued their dominance and put the game to bed with two goals in quick succession – Baker scoring a third and player/coach Ben Hibberd effectively sealing the win with a fourth goal.
The fifth goal came from Moore as he got a slight touch off a ball into the D from newcomer Will Phillips.
A deflated Holcombe looked to show some fight as they had a some chances in the closing 15 minutes and finally clawed a consolation goal back through James Davey, his 11th of the season.
But Winchester soon re-established supremacy with intricate play down the left-hand side between Kieran Malloy and Andy Thomas culminating in a second for South African Baker.
Winchester could have scored a seventh goal in the last minute as Kieran Malloy missed a chance of a goal-scoring farewell – he is off on his world wide travels today – with only the Holcombe goalkeeper to beat.
Trojans go into the derby on the back of a 3-2 defeat at West Hampstead, where Sam Broadhurst and Ben Frost scored.
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