The thread by which Fareham were hanging on to the remotest prospect of National League South Division survival was finally severed by a remarkable late Teddington comeback which ensured the Middlesex club’s safety instead.
They scored three times in the last ten minutes against Sevenoaks to reel in a 3-0 deficit and force a 3-3 draw which secured the point they needed to end all hopes of a Fareham hockey miracle.
Teddington’s dramatic equalizer came from a penalty corner in the set-piece time added on after the umpires had blown for full-time.
As it was, Fareham – with only two victories all season – needed to win their final two matches of a now suspended season (against Havant and Team Bath) to stand any remote chance of finishing second from bottom and above Teddington who, in turn, would have to lose their last two games.
It means that Fareham have finished last and will play in either the Eastern (with Chichester) or Western Conference next season.
Head coach Ben Barnes [pictured] said he “was gutted to have been relegated.
“But, having been promoted into a very strong National League South via the play-offs, it was always going to be a tough challenge this season.
“We have had so much thrown at us from pre-season (when influential captain Niall Stott and striker James Speke broke their legs in the same week) and all the way through the winter that has made it a very hard and frustrating year.
“We still have the Hampshire Cup to focus on so we shall try and regroup quickly to be ready for that, should it go ahead, of course.”
Reflecting on the season, Barnes added: “The numbers don’t lie.
“Not enough goals for, too many goals against and not enough points.
“The guys have not stopped fighting, but we have been up against better teams who have ultimately been better in both circles than us.
“But we have a very young and, in many respects, talented squad, with an excellent youth section, so there are plenty of positive aspects for the future.”
* To compound Barnes's disappointment, his former club Reading (where he spent many memorable seasons in his fine playing career) were relegated from the National League Premier Division and will face Havant et al in the South Division next season.
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