Fareham benefitted from a bizarre ‘umpire assist’ goal before clinching a thrilling 4-3 National League Western Conference win over Chichester, who had clawed back a 2-0 half-time deficit.
Five minutes remained on the clock when Kiwi Jack Gilbert broke on the left and powered a cross-shot towards the Chichester goal.
Chris Bristow flung himself to his left to parry the shot – the ball flying off and hitting umpire Darren Cass before landing conveniently at the feet of Niall Stott, who gratefully restored Fareham’s lead at 3-2.
The goal sparked a terrific climax to the derby – Alex Pendle equalising from a disputed penalty corner straight from the restart, but Gilbert clinching a Fareham victory with two minutes left.
Fareham ought to have put the game to bed after dominating the first half, but only having goals by Gilbert and Stott to show for their efforts.
They missed a gift chance right at the start, but Fareham’s first penalty corner was converted, New Zealander Gilbert picking up the pieces after Stott’s drag flick had been blocked.
Bristow, who had a terrific match in the Chichester goal, twice saved subsequent short corners before Alex Boxall forced a fourth set-piece which Stott stuck away to make it 2-0.
Chichester changed tact after the break, playing more from the back, but Bristow continue to thwart Fareham, denying Gilbert in a one-on-one break and saving from Chris Davey.
Two Chichester goals in five minutes by Andrew Sparshott turned the match on his head.
The bearded Chichester striker got his first after teenager Alex Pendle had been denied from a first penalty former and then scored a spectacular equaliser.
Fareham forced three unconverted short corners before Stott restored their lead from the bizarre ‘umpire assist’ five minutes from time.
But the visitors had two players sin-binned and were down to nine men for a chunk of the closing stages.
Pendle equalised at 3-3 immediately after, but Fareham weren’t to be denied – a long corner into the D from the right finding Gilbert, whose 68th minute winner was his seventh goal of the season.
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