Justin Bennett stole the show as Gosport Borough exacted swift revenge on neighbours Hawks in yesterday’s New Year’s Day Vanarama Conference South derby.
Borough’s record goalscorer was at his razor-sharp best with a first-half double to put the home side in command at the interval at Privett Park.
The visitors grabbed a lifeline seven minutes from time when Sam Pearce put through his own goal.
But with Lee Bradbury’s side throwing bodies forward in search of an equaliser, substitute Lee Wort had the final say deep in stoppage-time as he raced away to round goalkeeper Ryan Young and seal a 3-1 home win.
Although revenge is normally a dish best served cold, the Boxing Day leftovers were probably still luke warm from the Hawks’ 3-2 triumph at Westleigh Park.
But with many people still nursing hangovers from New Year’s Eve celebrations, Alex Pike’s side showed clear heads from the first whistle in front of a bumper crowd of 1,009 and got off to the ideal start as they stormed into a 2-0 lead inside 26 minutes.
Again, it was Bennett who delivered the killer blows to take his goal tally to 25 for the campaign in all competitions.
Rory Williams made inroads down the left flank and, when his deep cross was headed back across goal by Matt Paterson, Bennett was on hand to nod home beyond Young for the opener.
Paterson should have doubled the lead soon afterwards, blazing wide after Bennett unselfishly squared to him.
But Bennett then delivered again just after the midway point in the half with a classy finish.
The impressive Dan Wooden found him, before Bennett turned away from two defenders and arrowed his shot in off the far post from the edge of the box.
The Hawks, perhaps, enjoyed the better of the remainder of the half – although home keeper Nathan Ashmore was alert to deal with Ben Swallow’s 25-yarder.
However, he was a mere spectator when Scott Donnelly’s terrific free-kick crashed back off the crossbar eight minutes before the break.
The away side were sent out early for the second period but still struggled to threaten the Borough goal until the final 15 minutes, when they finally began to build some pressure.
Until that point, the hosts were content to stay solid and invite the Hawks to break them down.
Although, they also had their opportunities. Bennett might have completed his hat-trick and Pearce had a couple of decent efforts at goal.
Bradbury got his reward as he threw caution to the wind with some attacking substitutions.
His side finally breached the Borough defence seven minutes from time when Borough skipper Pearce could only head beyond his own keeper as a cross into the box was fired over.
But rather than attempting to hang on for the final few minutes, Pike opted to throw on a fresh striker in Wort – a move that paid off when Wooden’s lofted ball freed the sub to seal the points.
In a game played in a decent spirit, there was a late flashpoint, with Bradbury unhappy with Pike’s exuberant celebrations.
But while the Hawks claimed the Boxing Day honours, it was Borough’s turn on home soil as they started 2015 in style.
BOROUGH: Ashmore, Molyneaux, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Dunford, Carter (Ramsey, 65), Smith, Wooden, Bennett, Paterson (Wort, 87). Subs not used: Wilde, Matthews, Saez.
HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Dutton, Harris, Blanchett (Huggins, 59), Ciardini, Stock, Donnelly, Swallow (Bubb, 67), Hooper (Mullings, 59), Wright. Subs not used: Connell, Woodford.