Fareham Boys can hold their heads high after reaching the England Hockey Under-16 final, where two second half goals, the last in the final play, gave hot favourites Bowdon a 4-2 victory.
Topping their Pool after straight wins over Repton School, Canterbury and Clifton Robinsons, Fareham were level 2-2 at the half-time break in the final.
They took the lead with a Rory Buckeridge deflection and equalised through a Fergus Jackson drag flick right on the half-time whistle.
But Bowdon restored their advantage in the second half and, with Fareham having withdrawn their goalkeeper Matt Walton and operating with a kicking back, scored a fourth goal in the dying seconds.
Fareham head coach Ben Barnes, excited that so many promising young players are emerging from the club’s youth ranks, commented: “We’re extremely proud of this group of players, who have done Hampshire hockey proud.
“In the end it was not the result we were all hoping for, but its a huge achievement to be second in the country at Under-16 age group.”
Having won all seven of their qualifying group matches, Fareham were optimistic of success in the national finals in Wakefield, near Leeds.
And after trouncing Repton School 5-1 in their opening game - Sam Ratliffe, Fergus Jackson, Alex Beckett, Adam Shergold and Ollie Slingsby were on target – Fareham’s hopes soared.
Fareham swept into a 2-0 lead against Canterbury through Ratliffe and Jackson, but the powerful Kent side hit back before a third goal by Alex Beckett killed them off.
A third win – by 3-1 against Clifton Robinson (Alex Ellison, Buckeridge and Jackson) – ensured Fareham topped their Pool with an unblemished record.
* Fareham's next assignment is a Hampshire Under-16 Cup semi-final showdown with Winchester at Kings' School on Thursday (April 11), 7pm p/b.
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