Lee Bradbury watched his Hawks side earn a 2-1 Vanarama Conference South victory at Bath City in extraordinary circumstances and admitted: I’ve never seen a match-winning goal like ours.
Goalkeeper Ryan Young was the unlikely hero for the visitors when his second-half clearance left counterpart Jason Mellor stranded and embarrassed.
The Hawks led at the interval when JJ Hooper benefitted from a defensive mix-up to fire Bradbury’s side in front.
But they were made to sweat at the end when Andy Watkins reduced the arrears – following Young’s decisive effort.
‘It was a gritty performance in atrocious conditions,’ said Bradbury.
‘We started well, showing good energy levels and felt we were worth more goals than we scored.
‘There were good chances but we weren’t clinical enough in front of goal.
‘The two goals we got were gifts.
‘For our second goal, I’ve never seen that before in my whole career, with the goalkeeper scoring from the full length of the pitch.’
A horrendous mix-up in torrential rain by the hosts gifted the Hawks an eighth-minute lead.
Bath keeper Mellor and defender Andy Gallinagh collided as they tried to clear a long ball, allowing Hooper to nip in and calmly roll the ball into an empty net.
Bradbury’s side continued to create the better chances, with Ben Swallow and Hooper going close after Shamir Mullings’ touch let him down when through on goal.
Ryan Woodford then produced a superbly-timed tackle inside his own area to prevent a clear chance for Bath just before the break.
It was the Hawks, though, who extended their lead with an amazing 49th-minute goal.
Visiting keeper Young launched a huge clearance upfield and the ball took one bounce over the stranded Mellor and into the net.
Dave Pratt sent a header bouncing off the top of the crossbar as Bath looked for a response.
With a clear lead, Bradbury sent on experienced pair Brian Dutton and Pedro Monteiro for Woodford and Nic Ciardini.
But the hosts grabbed a first goal of the season to reduce the arrears in the 72nd minute when Watkins fired in from the edge of the area from a corner.
Despite inevitable pressure, Bradbury’s side held firm throughout a nervy final 15 minutes to claim a second successive win.
The Hawks boss added: ‘I was disappointed in the manner of the goal we conceded.
‘Our marking was not anywhere near close enough at a set piece.
‘That gave them a lift, though, I felt we dealt with it well.
‘The experienced players that went on shored things up.
‘Towards the end we had the chances for further goals on the counter-attack but again we were guilty of not taking them.’
Hawks: Young, Huggins, Blanchett, Ryan, Harris, Woodford, Swallow, Donnelly, Mullings, Hooper, Ciardini
Subs: Dutton, Cummings, Monteiro, Wedlake, Searle
n Gosport Borough beat an AFC Bournemouth XI 3-0 in a friendly at Privett Park.
Lee Wort, Robbie Matthews and Paco Saez were all on target.