The Hawks held their nerve to win the Hampshire Senior Cup for the first time tonight, after beating gutsy Winchester City on penalties at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium.
Lee Bradbury’s side recovered from going a goal behind at the break to former Gosport man Andy Forbes’ effort as they avoided an upset thanks to Dan Strugnell’s late leveller.
With no extra-time to be played, it was straight to a shoot-out, where ruthless Hawks converted all five spot-kicks, with Ryan Young saving the first City penalty from Jamie Barron to give them victory.
Andy Robinson netted the decisive effort as the favourites triumphed 5-3 on penalties, with substitutes James Hayter and George Barker joining Scott Donnelly and Matt Paterson in converting from 12 yards.
Boss Bradbury, who led the Hawks to a first Hampshire Senior Cup triumph in four attempts, said: ‘It feels good to finally win the cup.
‘I felt we bossed the game only to find ourselves a goal down and chasing the game.
‘They made it hard for us and although we had a lot of possession we never really hurt them enough
‘We did that well and made better decisions in the second half and were a lot better higher up the pitch.
‘When we sent James Hayter and Ben Swallow on it turned the game.
‘Once it went to penalties we were great.
‘It is great for our confidence going into our massive league game at St Albans on Saturday.’
The Hawks had an early escape when Robinson got back to clear off the line after Adam Roberts rounded goalkeeper Young.
In response, Nic Ciardini skipped through the City defence before firing wide of the far post.
Donnelly then flashed a 30-yard free-kick narrowly past the post and did the same with another effort from the edge of the area.
But on 29 minutes the Southern League side took a shock lead, following a poor mistake by Theo Lewis in midfield.
Warren Bentley intercepted his crossfield pass and burst into the area.
Young kept his low shot out with his foot but Forbes reacted quickest to slide the loose ball into the net.
Ten minutes into the second period, Shamir Mullings volleyed wide at the far post after being picked out by a terrific Paterson cross.
With 20 minutes remaining, City goalkeeper Brendan Norris did well to keep out a fierce drive from substitute Hayter at the near post, with the veteran striker an instant threat.
The Hawks were piling the pressure on their visibly tiring opponents and it finally paid off seven minutes from time.
A lofted ball dropped to Strugnell inside the area and the defender drove the ball in from eight yards.
The full-time whistle signalled a penalty shootout with Bradbury’s men netting all five of their spot-kicks to claim trophy glory after Young had earlier saved from Barron.
Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Haran, Lewis, Robinson, Hill, Ciardini, Donnelly, Mullings, Paterson, Mitchell. Subs: Molyneaux, Swallow, Hayter, Barker, Cummings