Alex Pike always kept the faith after watching Gosport Borough clinch promotion to Blue Square Bet South in dramatic fashion.
The Borough boss saw his side throw away a two-goal lead with just seven minutes left of their Southern League premier division play-off final at Hemel Hempstead yesterday.
But Gosport showed fighting spirit to come through in the end, winning the penalty shootout 5-4 to grab their second successive promotion via the play-offs.
Despite the late drama, Pike insisted he never doubted his team would secure promotion to the sixth tier of English football – where they will take on the Hawks next season.
‘We always seem to do things the hard way,’ said Pike.
‘All of a sudden in the second half they came back at us.
‘But even when they got back level I still believed we would go on and do it.
‘I knew as soon as it went to penalties we had five good penalty-takers in our side.
‘I felt we deserved it after winning both our play-off games away from home.
‘It is a massive achievement for the club. Who would have thought we would have caught up with Havant & Waterlooville?’
Pike was also delighted to silence Hemel’s home support after Gosport keeper Nathan Ashmore had a bottle thrown at him during the match.
The Borough boss added: ‘The people at Hemel have been great but their crowd was an absolute disgrace.
‘Nathan Ashmore came under a barrage of things thrown at him during the game.
‘I’m glad we won the game and Ashmore saved the penalty because that shut them up.’
MATCH REACTION, REPORT & RATINGS n Pages 44-45