Fareham’s brave second half fight-back at Sophia Gardens went unrewarded as Cardiff & Met, having seen a 2-0 lead wiped out, scored twice in quick succession to secure a 4-2 England Hockey West Conference victory.
They found themselves trailing to 17th and 33rd minute strikes by Cardiff pair Charles Hunt and Alf Dinnie.
But it might have been so different had Chris Davey not missed a great chance for Fareham in the opening exchanges.
Performance Director Ben Barnes reflected: "Cardiff are always a strong team at home - we needed to start well, and we did.
"Annoyingly, our early pressure came to nothing as our penalty corners were well charged-down, and 2-0 down at half time was not a fair reflection of the balance of play."
Fareham hit back with two goals of their own in a five-minute second half spell – James Evans (44) reducing the deficit before Martin Gough equalised from a Niall Stott penalty corner.
Cardiff counter-attacked effectively from their own circle, - Rhys Bradshaw and Jack Pritchard, from a short corner goalkeeper George Harris parried, scoring to give Cardiff a 4-2 win.
Fareham had Davey and James Seager yellow carded at crucial stages of the game.
Barnes added: “"The head injury to Niall Stott, a major influence in our side, also did us no favours - especially as we were winning the midfield battle at the time his injury occurred.
"The scoreline flattered Cardiff a bit, and the fourth goal put a gloss on it for them.
“We deserved more, but we move on to Cheltenham (Henry Cort, Saturday, 1.30) confident that we will bounce back and win.
The result was significant for the city side as West champions Team Bath lost 4-3 to Birmingham University’ leaving Exeter’s students top of the log.
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