Hayling United hauled themsel-
ves off the bottom of the Wessex Lea-gue premier division with a dramatic 4-4 draw at home to Romsey Town.
The draw moved the Humbugs above Fawley on goal difference and maintained their hopes of avoiding relegation.
If they are to survive, though, they must master the art of defence.
For the home side it felt like a defeat having led 3-1 and 4-2 before Romsey finally pegged them back with a late penalty.
Beleagured boss Lee Paul was grateful for a point in the end after watching his side throw away their winning position.
‘That was two points thrown away,’ said Paul.
‘But at this moment in time the point is better than nothing because every one counts.
‘It is disastrous, though, after getting ourselves into such a good position.
‘In the end it was down to poor decision making at the back.
‘We dominated most of the first half and played some good football at times. Going forward we looked very dangerous but if we keep conceding poor goals we are not going to win football matches. It was absolute mayhem just before half-time.’
Hayling started as if they were going to steamroll the visitors, pinning them back inside their own half.
The Humbugs created chance after chance but failed to put them away.
Eventually they made the breakthrough on 20 minutes when Dan Martin tucked a loose ball inside the post from a corner.
Romsey gradually improved and levelled the scores on the half-hour only for Rob Tambling to restore the home lead three minutes later.
Suddenly the art of defence went out of the window for both teams.
Steve Black headed in from point-blank range after a Lenny Burney header bounced down off the crossbar.
Two minutes later Jack Salter-Vaile turned the ball past his own goalkeeper Tony Harrop.
But Burney restored his side’s dominant position by drilling home from the edge of the area.
With a two-goal interval lead the Humbugs were still in a good position but after the break they went off the boil.
Within seven minutes the visitors had reduced the arrears after poor defending at a free-kick and suddenly the home side were hanging on for dear life.
They surrendered the midfield and were increasingly forced to fight a rearguard action.
Just when it looked as though they would hold out, a controversial penalty decision provided a late hammer blow.
Matt Kirby’s foul on the winger, as he cut in from the right, looked marginally outside the area but the assistant signalled a penalty.
Hayling were incensed but once the protests subsided Simon De’ath sent Tony Harrop the wrong-way with his spot-kick.
United’s frustration showed when Martin was sent off in the final minute for dissent.
‘I am hopeful that if we can tighten up at the back we can still save ourselves,’ said Paul.
‘We can’t seem to kill games off and keep leaking goals.’
Hayling United: Harrop; Kirby, Watts, Salter-Vaile, Thornton, Case, Black, Wray, Tambling (Clements, 57mins), Burney, Martin.