BOSS Dan Bishop was ‘really proud’ of his Hayling United underdogs despite their hopes of a Portsmouth Senior Cup upset disappearing inside half an hour at Fareham.
Up against a side from two divisions higher in the non league pyramid, the last thing the Hampshire Premier League visitors wanted was to concede early at Cams Alders.
Sadly for them, they did just that - and 1-0 down after four minutes became 4-0 down after 27 minutes.
But faced with the prospect of a total thrashing, the Humbugs showed character and refused to lay down and surrender.
Indeed, they created by far the better chances in the second half and Fareham needed keeper Ross Casey to pull off some great saves before and after Kieran Munday struck a well deserved consolation on 67 minutes.
‘We were like rabbits in the headlights to start with,’ said Bishop. ‘It was a combination of things - a few nerves, under floodlights, against a very good side.
‘There were a few home truths at half-time and a few harsh words said.
‘I just told the lads that they had to believe they could play at this level, and I was really proud of how we played in the second half. We were the better side and could have had a few more goals.’
Some poor defending helped Fareham - fielding eight of the starting XI who had thumped Wessex League leaders Alresford 7-1 at Cams Alders less than a fortnight ago - race into a comfortable lead.
Lewis Stockford was allowed too much time before firing the opener past Chris Clark, before Josh Benfield was given space on 12 minutes to collect a Tom Settle cross before turning and scoring from close range.
Stockford’s 25-yard shot, after a free-kick was passed sideways to him, was deflected in for 3-0 on 19 minutes.
And defender Ethan Jones showed great skill in bringing down another Settle cross, before turning and lashing in Fareham’s fourth on 27 minutes.
It could have been more but Luke Slade’s 25-yard shot cannoned back off a post.
Into the second half and Hayling, continuing to play nice football when they had the chance, showed what they are capable of.
Dan Goodsell fired over the bar and Munday warmed Casey’s hands with a venomous half-volley before the keeper pulled off a great save from Alex Jarrom’s header from the resultant corner.
After Munday had reduced the arrears, Casey flung himself to keep out another Jarrom header before a flowing move down the left ended with Matt Topple firing a good chance over the bar.
At the other end, Clark produced a stunning close range stop to prevent Simon Woods - a first half sub for Luke Slade - grabbing Fareham’s fifth.
The Reds now join US Portsmouth’s first and second teams plus Baffins Milton and Paulsgrove in the quarter finals of the PSC.
Locks Heath host Horndean and AFC Portchester host Denmead in two other second round ties on Wednesday night, while holders Moneyfields must travel to Gosport Borough on a date to be confirmed.