Fareham had a 3-1 interval lead wrested from their grip as a talented Exeter University eventually edged them out 5-4 in a West Conference thriller.
Exeter’s Tom Watson initially fired the West Country students ahead, but by just after the half-hour mark Fareham were 3-1 up and calling the tune.
“Exeter are the best side we have played so far,” remarked Fareham’s Performance Director Ben Barnes.
“They had good spells in the first half which we weathered well and got back to 1-1 - Chris Davey scored a cracking goal linking well with his younger brother George.”
A trademark Jamie Rawlins (pictured above by Neil Marshall) penalty corner and a maiden National League strike by teenager George Davey ten minutes gave Fareham their 3-1 advantage.
“To be fair, Exeter created more chances (than us) in that first half and after the break really stepped up the pressure to leave Fareham 4-3 down through strikes by Canor Caplan and Ed Matts inside 11 minutes,” Barnes recalled.
“At 4-3 down we grouped with Luke Cornish scoring again but two minutes later Sam Hooper struck what proved Exeter’s 5-4 winner from a short corner.
“The, right on the whistle, Luke agonisingly rolled a shot just wide of the post and deny us a fifth and equalising goal.”
Fareham lie in mid-table with three wins and three defeats – with basement side Clifton Robinsons at Henry Cort on Sunday, 1.30, when the inspirational Ian Stott will return from injury.
“Exeter was a tight game and we have gone toe to toe with the top three teams from last year and come up just short,” Barnes added.
“The team was down as we want to be winning those games and we are getting closer. If we keep up the hard work at training I am sure we can as each of Bath, Cardiff and Exeter will have to come to Henry Cort after Christmas.!
* Fareham II made it three successive Regional Division One victories when goals by George Davey and Luke Gould secured a 2-1 win at Havant II.
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