Fareham twice led Western Conference pacesetters Exeter University before the Devon students took control in the second half to run out 4-2 winners.
Ahead inside the opening 90 seconds and 2-1 up seven minutes before the break, Fareham were forced to play a chunk of the game with only ten men as Chris Davey, who scored the second goal, was twice yellow carded.
“The cards were crucial as we had to try and contain a very strong team,” reflected Fareham head coach Ben Barnes.
Despite being weakened by the absence of the influential Niall Stott and two of the Rawlings brothers, Fareham got off to a dream start with Martin Gough (left above)finishing off a move instigated from the back by Australian Dave Andersson.
They looked dangerous on the break, but allowed that early initiative to slip when Davey picked up his first yellow card and Sam Hooper equalised from a 14th minute penalty stroke.
Fareham continued to look sharp and edge the game and deservedly restored their advantage when Davey, out of the sin bin moments earlier, buried a penalty corner to make it 2-1.
But a minute before half-time Exeter, benefitting from time and space in the D, were back level through James Thomas.
When Davey collected a second yellow card – it could easily have been a red - soon after half-time, Fareham really were up against it.
“We did not have as much control and playing a man down was hard work,” Barnes conceded.
Exeter pressed, forced penalty corners and with 12 minutes remaining took the lead for the first time through Jack Middleton.
“Their third goal was a real shame. What looked like a clear foul on George Davey was not given and Exeter scored within 10 seconds. It gifted them a goal which was hard to swallow,” Barnes added.
Fareham almost levelled when teenage debutant Fergus Jackson and James Seager set up a move which ended with Chris Davey just off target.
As Fareham pushed for the equaliser, Exeter grabbed a rather flattering fourth goal from Conor Caplan in a final play penalty corner.
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