Fareham 9 (1-1) Romsey 3

In a titanic clash similar to that of the giant robots fighting the giant monsters in Pacific Rim, the Romsey Men’s 3rd XI travelled away to top of the league Fareham. Fareham had won their game in hand and sat a point above the Thirds; having dropped two points over their first six games to Romsey’s three. Push-back was taken at 16:30, and with the sun already set Romsey lined up as shown below. One notable absence was Captain Matt Clark, out with a groin injury, who still travelled to Fareham to instruct from the sideline.

Vice-Captain Pete Cooper took the armband for the day, and helped to motivate the team before the half pushed back. The first half began frantically, with Romsey absorbing a wave of early pressure from an energetic and physical Fareham side before mounting lightning counter attacks. This set the pattern for the first half until Romsey grew more into the game, with the midfield working well with the forwards to sustain pressure in Fareham’s third. Early chances were nearly converted as strikers Ellis, Mason, Lake and Lincoln worked particularly well on the break and the opposition keeper showed his quality early on. It was, however, Fareham who opened the scoring as the first half become more stretched, countering a Romsey attack and finding a striker who managed to beat keeper Lukasz Suleja even with three defenders around him. Suleja made some important stops and clearances throughout the match, and has conceded 4 over 7 games. Romsey had scored 23 in their previous 6 games, but could not score before the end of the half.

With the hosts 1-0 up, the half time team talk was an opportunity for the 3rd XI to calm down and assess where things were going wrong. Starting the second half as quickly as the first, it was Romsey who were on top in the early stages, with Fareham playing on the break. Strong play from the wingers resulted in corner after corner, with the forwards eventually winning a short. Injected by defensive rock Mark McArdle, the drag flick was taken by Danny Nicoll. Although Romsey believed Nicoll scored from the flick, the ball was adjudged not to have crossed the line before hitting a defender’s foot, and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped Nick Mason, who kept the ball low and buried in the bottom left of the goal. Once again, Romsey were on the ascendency but glorious chances for Lincoln and other Romsey forwards were well kept out by Fareham. With the feisty encounter finishing at 1-1, both sides will feel they are real contenders for the league.

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