Fareham Town displayed tremendous spirit to surprise title-chasing Sholing Sports and snatch a 1-1 draw in the Wessex League premier division contest at Cams Alders.
Simon Woods popped up with a last-gasp equaliser but manager Steve Stone insists it was no more than his side deserved – after eight successive league defeats.
They had also suffered an 8-2 cup mauling at the hands of Moneyfields in midweek which had severely dented morale.
Few gave the Reds any chance of containing the Boatmen but Stone had other ideas.
‘We knew the way Sholing like to get the ball down the flanks and get in behind you,’ said the boss.
‘So we changed the way we played to combat that and it worked.
‘Before the game we told the players to focus on two areas and if they did that then we would have a chance.
‘The first was going out with the right attitude and belief we could do it. That wasn’t present against Moneyfields and that killed us.
‘Then we also needed to make sure we got the performance right.
‘The lads did just that showing from the start they were prepared to graft for each other.
‘They stuck to the game plan from start to finish and got their reward.
‘We even almost won it.’
Fareham started well – nullifying the Sholing threat and creating a few chances of their own.
Liam Kimber forced a good save from the visiting keeper and Jay Ripiner fired a free-kick into the defensive wall from a good position.
The first half ended goalless and it wasn’t until the 71st minute that the visitors broke the deadlock.
Sholing striker Dan Mason turned on the edge of the area and unleashed an unstoppable volley into the top corner.
Despite the setback, the Reds stuck to their task and Woods earned them a deserved point with a well-struck half-volley at the death.
Stone was full of praise for veteran goalkeeper Karl Watson, who stepped in at the last minute.
The 42-year-old gave the defence a stability that has been missing in recent games.
Stone said: ‘I think the last time Karl played the footballs still had laces in them!
‘He didn’t have a lot to do during the game but gave his defenders an aura of confidence.
‘Even if he had set off in the warm up, he still wouldn’t have got anywhere near their goal.
‘It was a bit of a gamble playing Karl but we had conceded 44 goals in not that many games.
‘This result will give us a big boost moving forward.
‘It shows we can roll up our sleeves and dig in.’
Fareham Town: Watson, Davis, Grimshaw, Henry, Kimber, Martin, Maunder, Ripiner, Smith, Weeks, Woods. Subs not used: Bradbury, McCrombie, Szemis