FAREHAM took a big step towards remaining in National League conference west with a 2-1 win against University of Bristol at home on Saturday.
Performance director Ben Barnes praised the players for keeping their composure in such a tense contest against fellow strugglers.
In a dramatic finish captain Alex Boxall got the winner for Fareham with three minutes left after Bristol took their keeper off to go for the victory.
They are now seventh in the league and know they will stay up if they win their final match of the season at fifth-placed side University of Birmingham on Sunday.
Ben Barnes said: ‘With so much riding on the game for both teams there were nervous moments.
‘With them playing half court and sitting back we had to be patient and break them down which I was pleased we did.
‘It is such an important performance and result for this club and this group of players.
‘We have a hard last game, but one we know if we win we are safe.
‘To have that opportunity in the last game, considering we were rock bottom at the half way point of the season is a credit to how hard the group has worked and how much they have improved.
‘We need to grab that opportunity with both hands.’
Fareham enjoyed the majority of the possession in the early stages and played the ball around with some confidence reflecting their recent form and run of results.
On 20 minutes Fareham won the first two penalty corners of the game.
From the second Jamie Rawlings sent a fierce shot which was miraculously saved by the Bristol defender on the line. This was the closest either team got to scoring.
Fareham began to up the pressure in the closing stages of the first period but could not break down the Bristol defence.
Rawlings forced a spectacular save early in the second half.
Fareham continued to attack and Boxall got the opening goal when he shot into the roof of the net.
On 57 minutes Bristol grabbed an equaliser against the run of play.
Tom Wilson was on hand to deflect the ball past George Harris in the Fareham goal to level the scores. This led to a very nervy and frenetic spell with both sides desperate for the win.
In the last five minutes Bristol decided to take off their keeper and put on an extra outfield player to try to find the winner.
Jamie Rawlings immediately sent a long ariel pass out of defence for Fareham which created a two on two attack as Sasha Thomas collected the pass.
He combined with Boxall who was able to put the ball into an empty goal to secure the win.