Pre-Season Friendly

Stockbridge 0

Fareham Town 1

(Ousman Saidy)

Attendance: 32 (approx. headcount)

Stockbridge Recreation Ground

After the jubilations of watching England reach their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 I hadn’t given watching other football a minute thought all day. The World Cup is really sweeping up the whole nation as everyone rides the Gareth Southgate wave.

That said there are plenty of local pre-season games to watch and despite not fancying any early matches yesterday, a revisit to Hampshire League Stockbridge looked tempting as they hosted Wessex Premier side Fareham Town.

This is my third Hampshire League versus Wessex League friendly encounter this season with two proverbial giant killings already witnessed as Bush Hill brushed past Downton on Wednesday and Colden Common narrowly scraped past Hythe & Dibden 24 hours later. With just one division separating Bush Hill & Colden Common from Downton and Hythe there was a two-league gap between these two outfits.

This was my third time in three seasons watching Stockbridge. Having first seen them in the 2016/17 season in a 3-1 league defeat away at Colden Common, I managed to tick off their home ground this time last season as they drew 2-2 against AFC Totton U18s in a pre-season friendly.

I have seen Fareham Town four times prior to today’s match. In terms of properly exploring the non-league scene in the Hampshire area, Fareham were one of the first clubs I saw. I remember finishing my previous job that involved working six evenings per week in early November 2015 and a week later I was out on the road, driving to Blackfield & Langley as they faced Fareham in the Wessex Premier. They lost that night 2-0 and I saw them again later that season as they beat Hamworthy United 3-0 in March 2016.

I love the Cams Alders Stadium and I was keen to return the following season and I didn’t have to wait long as they became an integral part of my 2016/17 FA Cup run when I saw them in a 4-2 defeat to Alresford in the first round qualifying. My last trip to Cams and the last time I saw the Creeksiders play was October 2016 when they lost 2-1 to Team Solent.

These pre-season games really are throwing up some interesting individuals. After watching FA Cup Finalist and Norway international Jo Tessem play for Hythe, today Fareham boasted their own international in the form of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines defender Shawn Benjamin!

I am yet to do a new ground either this season, however I am just enjoying the revisits having moved back to Hampshire after eight months away.

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The Ground

I was here just under 12 months ago when I witnessed a late comeback as AFC Totton U18s recovered a two-goal deficit to draw with Stockbridge in a friendly.

Little has changed at the rec in the past 12 months, but I will mention the brand-new clubhouse which was open for the game. It certainly adds another valuable part to the ground as the club seek to climb into the Wessex set up. The clubhouse is equipped with a TV mounted on the wall and a couple of picnic benches to sit and enjoy your half time snack that can be purchased from inside the clubhouse.

To read my original comments on the ground, check out Travelling To- Stockbridge.

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The Game

Ousman Saidy scored the only goal of the game as Wessex Premier side Fareham Town beat off lower league opposition Stockbridge of the Hampshire Premier.

The former Portsmouth trainee volleyed into the back of the net in the second half for a memorable goal in a not-so-memorable game.

Stockbridge spurned a great chance to take the lead in the early minutes as both sides settled into the game. Rory Hunter-Brown threaded a neat ball into Lewis Price-Lloyd, but the former Romsey forward scuffed his shot as the ball trickled out of play.

At the other end, Ethan Jones had found himself in an advanced position as he flicked the ball up on the edge of the box and fired a soft volley straight into the hands of Pete Roberts.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines international defender Shawn Benjamin fired a shot high over the bar after some pinball inside the area.

The visitors were forced into an early change as Fareham attacking threat Ash Tattersall was introduced to the game.

Roberts had to be alert to parry away a cross into the area that could have snuck into the bottom corner had the ‘keeper not got his hands to the effort.

The hosts were forced into a first half change when Price-Lloyd was replaced by Josh Barnes before the half time break.

Benjamin was a constant threat from set pieces, but he couldn’t hit the target as he sent a couple of powerful headers over the goal and down the back of the new clubhouse.

Curt Robbins had the best chance of the half when his long-range shot took a wicked deflection off a Stockbridge defender and looped over Roberts before striking the crossbar.

Josh Graham ended the half with a scuffed effort that wasn’t going to worry Del Harding in the Creeksider goal.

It took just five minutes of the second half for the game to finally see a goal. A cross in from the right was only half cleared to Saidy just inside the area and the youngster showed great composure to volley the ball into the back of the net.

The second half produced very little as both sides used all of their substitutes as players get some valuable minutes on the pitch.

Harding spilled a cross from Dean Carr but Fareham were able to clear the danger as the hosts went close to getting the equaliser.

As both teams struggled in the blistering heat, Stockbridge were forced to finish the game with 10 men having used all of their substitutes and the option of rolling subs was no exercised. Steven Lace went shoulder to shoulder with Benjamin and came off second best going down with a knee injury.

Fareham didn’t capitalise on the man advantage as the clock ticked down from a very uneventful pre-season clash in the Hampshire countryside.

2018/19 Games: 3

2018/19 Grounds: 3

Total Grounds Visited: 220 (51)

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