Hayling United showed their battling qualities once again – but still couldn’t avoid a 5-2 defeat to visitors Blackfield & Langley.
With boss Lee Paul starting a two-match touchline ban, Steve Poulton took charge of the side for their Wessex League clash at the College Ground.
Big-spending Blackfield fielded former Pompey and Dumbarton attacker Liam Horstead and ex-Fareham striker Warren Hunt.
And Horstead made himself busy from the start, setting up former Saint Bobby Scott to open the scoring for the visitors on eight minutes from close range.
Horstead was inches away from doubling the advantage when he thumped a shot inches the wrong side of the post.
Hayling responded briefly but, apart from a shot from Steve Black that keeper Steve May saved with an outstretched leg, they never looked likely at that stage to get back into the game.
And poor defending on Hayling’s part cost them a second goal when Scott was given all the time he needed to meet a corner and stroke the ball into the net.
Two minutes into the second half and the hosts pulled a goal back as Black stole in to ram the ball home from close range.
On the hour, Hayling completed their comeback when Luke Bishop went down under a heavy challenge in the area and Josh Case stepped up to fire an equaliser from the spot.
It was very much game on, but it was Blackfield who stole the lead again, with Scott ghosting in to lob keeper Lloyd Patilla as he raced out to narrow the angle.
Scott struck again on 85 minutes, rising head and shoulders above his marker to meet Joe Bye’s corner and head in off the underside of the crossbar.
Just before the final whistle, former Gosport Borough striker Lloyd O’Neil came off the bench to take a Horstead pass in his stride and thump a fifth.
Even then there was time left for more drama as the referee sent off Blackfield’s Ngwa Beng-Yela after he picked up a second yellow card.
Hayling United: Patilla, Watts, Vince, Salter-Vaile, Thornton, Bishop, Black, Case, Clements, Kinchen, Tigwell Subs: Baker, Cottle, Gain, Greenway, Fisher.
n A first-half hat-trick from Jamie Hore set Moneyfields on their way to a 7-2 Wessex League Cup win at Alresford Town.
Steve Hutchings (2), Danny Horrell and Luke Middleton also got on the scoresheet as the city club cruised into the next round.
‘It was all over by half-time when we held a 5-1 lead,’ said Moneys boss Miles Rutherford. ‘In the second half we played at a canter because the job had been done.’
n Horndean manager Dave Carter wants to maintain his unbeaten record on the Isle of Wight as he takes his side to meet Newport IOW in the Wessex League Cup tonight.
‘I have never lost a game on the island,’ said Carter. ‘We are struggling a bit because of injuries but have striker Tor Spicer back.’
Youngsters Sam Farrugia and Brad Groves are set to be involved.