Lack lustre Fareham slipped to a third England Hockey West Conference defeat in four matches when Bristol-based Clifton Robinson lifted themselves off the league basement with a 2-1 win, their first of the campaign.
Fareham were never able to slip into any sort of rhythm and, having become frustrated and impatient, conceded two Clifton goals inside three minutes midway through the second period.
Jamie Rawlings responded with a penalty stroke seven minutes from time, but despite sustained late pressure Fareham were unable to salvage a point.
“It goes to show anyone can beat anyone in this league this year and why must approach each match as simply another tough game and not based on table position,” Fareham skipper Alex Boxall pointed out.
Clifton’s own spirits had been lifted with a 4-4 draw with second placed Olton & West Warwicks a week earlier.
Their well organised, non-roving back five, complimented by a popular aerial route into Fareham territory, caused the hosts tactical problems.
It was clear from the outset, Fareham would have to prise open their rearguard, but only twice in the first half did they look capable of doing so.
Former Scottish international Niall Stott, making a welcome return after a two-match absence with concussion, created both openings – but Alex Boxall lifted one effort a shade too high drove one shot wide and a Rawlings short corner was beaten out.
Arguably the best chances fell to Clifton, with George Harris saving well from Rory Thornburn and another effort cleared off the line.
“I felt the first half was very positive for us, however, the goal did not come and I fear we became impatient in the second half leaving us slightly more exposed for their goals,” Boxall added.
Fareham were undone by those two Clifton goals in successive attacks.
Harris, who had another fine game, partially saved the shot which led to Matt Plimmer opening Clifton’s account in the 56th minute, but had little hope with the second which began with a superb aerial cross-field ball, eventually put away by the unmarked Tom Jarvie.
Fareham finished strongly with Rawlings reducing the deficit from a penalty stroke, but their circle entries were restricted to one fine Luke Cornish orchestrated move and a late short corner, which was well saved.
“This result shows we can’t afford to be complacent. We’ve got nine points on the board and need another win this month to be able to push on during the second half of the season in the New Year,” Boxall continued.
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