Fareham sent in their boys to do a man’s job – and how the youngsters responded by pulling off a remarkable 4-3 win over Old Cranleighians in the first round of England Hockey’s Tier 1 Championships.
With a host of first team regulars unavailable, head coach took a 13-man squad to Thames Ditton to face an OCs side challenging strongly in second place for the Western Conference title.
“Our average squad age was little more than 21 years – and alongside the two 30-year olds in skipper Martin Gough and Shane Vincent, we paraded about seven teenagers,” beamed Barnes.
“It was a great result. We led 4-1 at one stage, but conceded two late goals to make things tense late on, but we ran the clock down well by simple possession play in the corners. To be honest the 4-3 scoreline flattered OCs.”
Barnes had a special mention for debutant goalkeeper Josh Dawson, whose triple save early in the proceedings was key to the victory, and Portsmouth Grammar School teenager Rory Buckeridge, who is in the England Under-16 squad.
“Rory slotted in very well, was calm, assured and skilful. Jamie Young played his first 1’s game for three years and produced a notable performance, while Andy Allan did well up front” Barnes added.
Fareham took the lead through Kieran Page after some fine individual play from Rory Penrose, but were pegged back by a Cranleighians equaliser.
A trademark Shane Vincent drag flick restored Fareham’s lead, which recent recruit Josh Steel, from Solent University extended before some quality pressing enabled Will Penrose to add a fourth to give the visitors a cushion.
Old Cranleighians threw caution to the wind in the latter stages and clawed two goals back, but were unable to score a fourth and force the tie into penalty strokes.
“A lot of the young lads took the opportunity to stake a claim for a first team place when the National League resumes in early February. Competition for places has certainly increased on the back of this cup win,” said Barnes, whose Fareham side lies bottom of the South Division with only one win.
Fareham’s squad v OCs was: Josh Dawson, Rory Buckeridge, Will Raymond, Philip Larcombe, Shane Vincent, Rory Penrose, Fergus Jackson, Will Penrose, Kieran Page, Martin Gough, Josh Steel, Andy Allan, Jamie Young.
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