Fareham twice had the lead wrestled from their grasp and, somewhat disappointingly, had to settle for a 2-2 draw with fourth-placed National League Western Conference rivals Old Georgians at Henry Cort.
But the point they took off the Surrey side coincided with defeats for Isca (4-1 by Exeter University) and Chichester (1-2 v Cheltenham) and edged them out of the immediate relegation play-off spot.
Fareham’s priority now is to beat the bottom side Bristol University at Henry Cort on Saturday (1.30) in arguably the most important game the club has played in years.
“I was proud of the effort the boys put in against Old Georgians and we’re now in control of our own destiny,” reflected Fareham head coach Ben Barnes.
“We’ve caught up four points on Isca in the past fortnight and now are only one point behind Chichester, whose last two games are against Cardiff Met and Old Georgians.
“We have momentum and we need to keep going at the same intensity for the last two games. Two wins is what we need to be certain and I know the guys will be going for it.”
Fareham underlined how far they have progressed against Old Georgians, who thumped them 6-1 on the opening day of the season.
They called the tune for the opening quarter and saw two chances missed before Alex Boxall got a deflection off a cross shot from Danny Rawlings.
Minutes later came a miss that possibly cost Fareham the win points.
James Evans, who is proving a handy acquisition since joining from Havant, teed up a great chance for James Seager, who rolled his shot wide with OGs keeper Chris Wyver beaten.
“JJ beat himself up about that miss and it would have given us a great 2-0 cushion,” Barnes added.
Old Georgians gained the upper hand and, after George Harris had denied former Olympian James Tindall, Andrew O’Sullivan converted their third penalty corner.
Although there were no yellow cards, tempers became frayed with the umpires having to call the two captains together at one point and cool the situation.
Fifteen minutes into an absorbing second period Fareham regained the lead.
The evergreen John Grice went in a rampaging run down the right-hand by-line and eased the ball back for Evans to make it 2-1.
Minutes later, Fareham had a let off when the umpires upheld their protests about the award a of penalty stroke and changed it to a short corner.
But Old Georgians’ pressure was mounting and Harris denied Tom Doran before the visitors did get a penalty – the ball struck Chris Davey on the goal line – and Tindall equalised seven minutes from the end.
Harris wasn’t finished yet – his late save with his outstretched legs denying Elliott Messem an OG’s winner.
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