Fareham turned on the style with a 5-0 thrashing of England Hockey Western Conference neighbours Chichester at Henry Cort – a scoreline that would have been even more emphatic but for visitors’ goalkeeper Chris Bristow, who pulled off a string of fine saves.
The double clinching win – Fareham emerged 4-3 victors from a late autumn thriller in West Sussex – lifted Ben Barnes’s side out of the bottom two and set up an intriguing upcoming double at Team Bath and against Havant at HC on Sunday, 1.30.
An enterprising Fareham were boosted by the arrival of former Great Britain Olympian Richard Martell, who scored the fourth of their five goals.
On the debut of his former Reading team-mate Martell, Barnes reflected: “His range of passes is quite amazing and something that this league will not have seen before. “He brings a calmness to the group as well and brings other players in to the game, the other full back and half backs, as well as the ability to push back to front.”
Chichester were chasing the game from the sixth minute onwards when Jamie Rawlings converted a penalty corner set up by Jack Gilbert, who rifled home Fareham‘s second before having a potential third goal (from a rasping reverse stick shot) disallowed for a foot infringement.
“Jack had a very good game, when he plays with that intensity both with the ball and how he presses he is a very effective player for us. He will score more goals I am sure as he was a little disappointed to have missed out on more,” Barnes said.
Alex Thakore excelled in Chichester’s increasingly overworked defence - a beaten out Alex Pendle short corner being virtually the visitors’ only scoring chance of the first half.
Any prospect Chichester had of rescuing the situation effectively ended two minutes into the second period when former team-mate Martin Gough pounced on a rebound off Bristow’s pads to make it 3-0 after the goalkeeper had made a fine save from Gilbert.
Pendle had another penalty corner foiled before Fareham, stepping up the intensity and hitting the woodwork through teenager Fergus Jackson, scored twice more in the last ten minutes, Martell rifling home a set piece and the influential Niall Stott making it 5-0 in the final play with a clever piece of stick play.
Barnes added: “Matt Ramsay had a good game in defence and along with Jamie Rawlins and others gives us players who can push through with the ball as well as overhead. He gives us many out-letting options of through, over or round which is nice. Half backs have more licence to attack wide if required.
“What pleased me the most against Chichester was our control of the game and scoring both open play and penalty corners.
“There are areas to improve for certain, the game was a bit scrappy at times and we missed some opportunities to score.
“I think we also defended well but Chichester had their chances, three penalty corners and three other scoring opportunities which we can try to reduce.
“But teams will always have chances and play well which is natural, we kept their good players quiet for the most part of the game, so I am really happy with the performance overall and the result can take care of itself if the performance keeps improving.”
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