Fareham’s decision to put their faith on youth following last season’s National Hockey League relegation has paid immediate dividends.
A squad largely comprising home grown players twice came from behind to beat Southgate 4-3 and earn a place in Saturday’s delayed 2109/20 Tier 1 Championship final against mighty Beeston in Nottingham.
They were twice behind inside the opening seven minutes but level 2-2 by half-time with goals by Danny Rawlings and Alex Beckett.
Fareham took a 3-2 lead ten minutes into the second half from a rasping Shane Vincent penalty corner drag flick and scored a fourth through Alex Boxall just short of the hour mark.
Fareham were forced to play the last five minutes with ten men after George Davey was red carded but even though Southgate clawed back a third the town youngsters held on.
“It really was an uplifting start to the competitive season,” enthused former goalkeeper George Harris who has replaced Ben Barnes as head coach.
“We did well in a tournament involving Barford Tigers and Havant previously so we took a lot of confidence into the Southgate match, beating them with nine home grown players in the squad which is very encouraging.
“Beeston are a massive club in English Premier Division hockey, so it will be a great experience for the lads.”
Fareham were rock bottom of the National South division with only two wins when last season was curtailed in February due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with relegation already a certainty.
They will compete in the Western Conference this coming season, with Chichester their local rivals alongside trips to Cardiff, Bristol and the West Country.
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