Horndean missed the chance to pull clear of the relegation zone after a 3-1 defeat to rock-bottom New Milton Town.
For the second match in a row, the Deans almost handed their opponents an early advantage. This time, keeper Jack Stanbridge was forced to scurry across his goal to prevent Kevin Chatfield’s third-minute back header creeping in at the far post.
New Milton were clearly responding to the invective-laden team talk from their manager that echoed across Five Heads Park before kick-off.
A long ball from Adam Roberts played Steve Whitcher clear but his first touch took him away from goal and the defence were able to shepherd the ball out for a corner that was easily cleared.
The visitors were closer to a goal a minute later. Roberts’ cross was headed goalwards by Callum Holloway but Stanbridge managed to throw up an arm to block the ball and collect the rebound.
For two sides languishing at the wrong end of the table, it was proving to be a highly-entertaining affair.
Nathan Paxton saw his shot tipped on to the post by a flying save from Mike Hookway, whilst at the other end, Stanbridge was forced to save at the feet of Holloway.
New Milton finally grabbed the lead on 25 minutes when the Deans failed to clear their lines and Dan Cox smashed the ball in from six yards.
Horndean were back level within two minutes, though. Paxton was tripped by Ian Proctor and Dan Hayes sent Hookway the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.
The New Forest side, who had won only three league matches this season, took control of the game with two goals either side of the hour mark.
In the 59th minute, Holloway dispossessed Tom Chapman to race clear and tuck the ball past the advancing keeper.
Five minutes later, the home defence failed to pick up Ben Thompson’s late run and the substitute’s effort had just enough power to beat Stanbridge.
Horndean had their chances to reduce the arrears but it summed up their afternoon as Chamal Fenelon screwed his shot wide, substitute Lenny Burney miscued from 10 yards, and Paxton drilled a shot inches past the post.
Wessex League premier division
HORNDEAN 1 (Hayes pen)
NEW MILTON TOWN 3 (Cox, Holloway, Thompson)