Cardiff & Met scored twice in the opening ten minutes and had five goals in the back of the net before half-time before cruising to a 6-2 win over Fareham, whose prospects of a top six Western Conference finish are all but mathematically over.
With five games remaining, Fareham are nine points adrift of sixth placed Team Bath and six adrift of Bristol University, who pulled off a shock 4-2 win over previous leaders Olton & West Warwicks.
Fareham will need to beat Bristol and win at least one more game (they visit winless Isca in Exeter on Saturday) if they are to claim a play-off place allocated to the seventh -placed side.
An eighth minute short corner version by Luke Hawker, followed by a Jack Pritchard penalty stroke soon after gave Cardiff the perfect start at Sophia Gardens.
Ellis Robson made it 3-0 before Jamie Rawlings launched a two-goal Fareham comeback by converting consecutive penalty corners to make it 3-2.
The next goal was clearly crucial, but Cardiff greedily scored twice more before half-time through Robson and Rhys Gowman to change round 5-1 up.
Hawker’s second and Cardiff’s sixth goal three minutes into the second half made the last half-hour academic.
Fareham share second from bottom position with Chichester, who creditably held Birmingham University 1-1, with Alex Thakore giving them a penalty corner lead which the students cancelled out in the 52nd minute.
On a positive note, Fareham seconds remain a point behind the automatic promotion spot in Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 1 after a 6-1 win over second placed Purley Walcountians at Henry Cort, where teenager Fergus Jackson underlined the value of midweek training sessions on Hill Head beach with a hat-trick. George Davey, Seb Dennison and Aidan Page also hit the target.
Fareham II lie on point behind behind Bournemouth, who crashed 4-2 at Oxted.
Welcome to Vimps at the Hockey
Powered by Cricket-Hockey.com, the hockey equipment specialists in Downton, Salisbury