Pete Stiles received a late Christmas present as Fareham Town chalked up a 2-1 win against Bashley at Cams Alders.
The Reds boss feared the worst after being badly hit by injuries and unavailability for the Wessex League premier division clash.
However, the reserve and youth-team players who came in stepped up to the mark.
And Stiles hailed his troops’ display.
The Fareham boss said: ‘We stuck to our game plan and it was good.
‘The aim was not to concede and apart from a silly penalty given away late on we achieved it.
‘It is a very welcome three points.
‘The league is so tight, apart from the top two, that a couple of good results can take us right up there.’
After weathering early pressure, the Reds broke out to take a seventh-minute lead.
Miles Gibson sent a corner to the far post where Garry Moody neatly headed home.
The visitors continued to dominate possession but Fareham punished them for a second time with 15 minutes before full-time.
Another corner was half-cleared and Scott Hamilton popped up to score.
Bashley reduced the arrears from the penalty spot eight minutes from the end to set up a tense finale.
Yet Fareham remained firm to clinch all three points.
Meanwhile, Harry Jackson’s first-half goal ensured Horndean returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at Hamble Club.
Goals from Rob Taw, Tommy Tierney and Tommy Leigh earned Baffins Milton Rovers a 3-1 success at Cowes Sports.
It was the performance manager Steve Leigh wanted ahead of their FA Vase tie at Cray Valley next Saturday.
He said: ‘It looked like we had been on a Christmas break so it was good to get some of the rustiness out of our system.
'The FA Vase game will be all about belief.’
AFC Portchester ended the year in disappointing fashion with a 2-1 home defeat to Alresford Town.
In division one, United Services stormed to a 3-0 win against Petersfield Town at Love Lane.
Mig Darke, Lewis Beale and Frankie Paige were on target for the Sailors.