Martin Gough struck six minutes from time to give Fareham a 4-3 England Hockey West Conference win over Cheltenham they almost tossed away.
Five minutes into the second half Fareham were 3-0 up and cruising it – only to be rocked by two Cheltenham goals in three minutes and an equaliser soon after.
Just when the game might have slipped away, Gough’s predatory prowess came to the fore and Fareham got the winner.
With two of their most influential players in Luke Cornish and Niall Stott absent, Fareham had to make key personnel changes – but it didn’t prevent them from producing a positive two-goal first half display.
They took a 14th minute lead when former Peter Symonds College student Will Jones, pictured, got a touch to a screaming shot from James Seager, who doubled the advantage from a drag flick penalty corner before half-time.
It was Jones’s maiden National League goal and the teenager, signed from Havant in the close season, went on to be named man-of-the-match.
When Jamie Rawlings rifled another drag flick into the roof of the Cheltenham net early in the second half the result appeared academic.
Fareham lost the intensity they had earlier enjoyed and allowed Cheltenham right back into the match to the extent that Alex Salmon and Luke Cole reduced the deficit to 3-2 – and then ex-Havant man Ben MacKay equalised with a penalty corner.
But Fareham kept their heads and, six minutes from time, prised open the visitors defence with a well worked three-man move involving Danny Rawlings, the inspirational Will Jones and Alex Boxall.
It was Boxall, the Fareham captain, who worked the ball in for the right for Gough to do what he does best – and put the ball into the net for the winner.
But it still wasn’t over because George Harris had to make a late penalty corner save to deny Cheltenham a draw.
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