Whitchurch, with only three of last season’s players in the starting line-up, got their season off to a winning start at Cams Alders on Saturday in a game that will be probably best remembered by those present for a 13 minute cameo by home striker Rudi Plummer.

In weather better suited for cricket Whitchurch got off to the worst possible start with the home side gifted a goal after just four minutes. Goalkeeper Brad Snelling, unable to pick the ball up, saw his clearance hit one of his own defenders and Plummer rolled the loose ball into the empty net. Buoyed by this Fareham pressed forward with Wayne Boud fired across the face of goal and Plummer, after a mazy run, sliding the ball past Snelling and the outside of the post. The striker then made and missed another chance before tangling with a defender at the end of another run. Both players went down in a heap and Plummer was shown a red card , seemingly for kicking out while on the ground.

Boud was narrowly wide from distance before Jack Garner suffered the same fate at the other end after goalkeeper Luke Douglas had mistimed a clearance.The visitors slowly forced their way into the game and after Danny Phillips had tested Douglas they brought the scores level ten minutes before the break. Phillips was the instigator, his trickery and pace finding space on the right, and when he pulled the ball back Garner sidefooted home. Another neat move finished with a Phillips shot that was too high and Douglas saved well from Tom Lockyer as Whitchurch finished the half the stronger.

Whatever instructions and game plan Fareham manager Matt Parr had for the second half probably went out of the window just four minutes after the restart when they fell behind for the first time in the game. Whitchurch won a corner on the right and Elliott Parker was allowed time and space to thump a header past Douglas. Things then went from bad to worse two minutes later when Boud, harshly cautioned in the first half, was sent off for a second yellow card. Fareham were then obviously stretched and Ryan Lambert sent the ball the wrong side of the post with only the keeper in front of him before Phillips failed to take advantage of a similar chance. Fareham substitute Louie Martin shaved the crossbar with a free-kick while Douglas left his goal to deny Phillips and then superbly turned away a fierce volley from Adam Battison. Another poor clearance by Snelling almost left the visitors rueing their missed chances as Martin’s first time shot was a foot wide but the visitors saw the game out for a welcome three points to start the season.

Manager Carl Bennett will be delighted with his side’s performance and the three points which will raise the spirits for the succession of games over the coming weeks.

Whitchurch are home to Bemerton Heath Harelquins on Wednesday night.

Cara Lewis