A goal behind inside 30 seconds and six down at half-time, Fareham predictably exited England Hockey’s Premier Cup competition, beaten 7-1 by National League giants Reading at rain soaked Sonning.
Fareham’s young side were simply blown away by Reading’s pace and slick penalty corner routines with the gulf in class between the two sides all too evident for the opening 35 minutes.
But with a defeat of potentially embarrassing proportions beckoning, Fareham did redeem themselves after the break, with Tom Larcombe getting the visitors on the score-sheet and Reading only scoring their seventh and final goal in the final play.
Fareham coach Ben Barnes, who enjoyed some of the high-spots of his own playing career at Reading, admitted his youngsters had been taught a hockey lesson in the first half, but took a lot of positives from their second half display.
“We were shown the gulf of class between the two levels in the first half,” he admitted.
“We were too deep which allowed Reading to pass the ball around us down the right side in particular. They won corners and scored open play too easily.”
Even competing with the side that finished fifth in the National League was going to be a tall ask for Fareham.
But, with a handful of senior players absent, to fall behind to a Tom Carson strike almost straight from the start was the stuff worst nightmares are made of.
Playing with real pace, Reading tore Fareham to shreds with three slick short corner conversions following in quick successions after Carson’s opener.
Fareham had been hit for six by half-time, with Canford-schooled Ben Boon also on target.
“In the second half we played higher and they sat back a bit which allowed us back in to it,” Barnes added.
Tom Larcombe responded with his maiden senior goal, before Reading scored their seventh right on the final whistle.
Reflecting, Barnes said: “The cup run has allowed the younger players to get very valuable experience of first team hockey.
“The three Rawlings brother and James Seager were good as was Luke Cornish and Chris Davey, who did not stop running and tried to take the game to Reading, especially in the second half.
“Phil Larcombe really impressed me, calm, good quality on the ball. He has a bright future.
“But overall it gives us an incentive to train hard and replicate some of the hockey we saw Reading play in the first half.
“We played with more intent second half and competed.”
• Fareham seconds finished a creditable fifth in Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 1 after a young side travelled to Thames-side and beat runners-up Barnes 3-0.
Fergus Jackson gave Fareham a first half lead, which George Davey (after some excellent play by Jamie Young) and Scott Rawlings improved upon.
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