Lee Bradbury has saluted the Hawks’ bravery after they claimed a 2-2 draw against Salisbury in Blue Square Bet South.
Perry Ryan headed home twice as the hosts clawed back a two-goal deficit and snatched a vital point at Westleigh Park.
And while Bradbury was disappointed with the head start his side gave the visitors – he was pleased with the way they bounced back in the end.
The ex-Pompey striker reckons the Hawks could even have won the game had it not been for an unfortunate injury to Scott Jones with 12 minutes left.
The striker was knocked unconscious after a sickening collision with Salisbury goalkeeper Willem Puddy.
After a lengthy delay, the substitute was stretchered off and taken to hospital – before he was released later on Saturday night.
Bradbury said: ‘We did not get going for 45 minutes, showed them far too much respect and sat off.
‘We then looked dead and buried after an hour.
‘They were disappointing goals from our point of view.
‘Their striker should not have been given that much time and space to get his shots in.
‘I had to tinker with the formation because they were dropping into the hole in front of our back four and giving us problems.
‘We were not getting the ball out wide to our wings and full-backs quickly enough to cause them any difficulties.
‘We knew the next goal would be vital and thankfully we got it.
‘We showed our bravery – and up until the injury to Scott Jones I believed we were the team most capable of winning it.’
After Jones was stretchered off, the Hawks were forced to carry on with 10 men – as Bradbury had used all three of his substitutes.
However, they were able to hold on to the draw – a result which had looked a long way off when Dan Fitchett had doubled his tally and Salisbury’s lead on the hour.
The Hawks had ridden their luck throughout the first half – with only a combination of keeper Clark Masters and the woodwork preventing further damage.
The division’s leading goalscorer – Jamie White – crashed a fierce drive against the far post.
And Rob Sinclair’s header was tipped onto the post by Masters who produced further good saves after the break, only for a double from Fitchett to put the visitors in charge.
On both occasions he profited from the Hawks’ hesitancy on the edge of their own area.
But within two minutes Ryan launched a fightback with a point-blank header – making certain a looping effort from Ollie Palmer crossed the line.
And then eight minutes later the substitute guided a second into the far corner to level matters after a fine run and cross from Christian Nanetti on the right flank.
Salisbury regained top spot with the point – but the Hawks were not so fortunate as they slipped back to 19th place.
However, Bradbury was keen to focus on the positives after a tricky spell for his men.
‘Our last four games have been against top-five sides and we have only been beaten once, so I have to be pleased with that.’
HAWKS: Masters 8, Newton 7, Grant 6, Hutchinson 7
(Jones 6, 56mins), Harris 7, Strugnell 7, Ighorae 6
(Nanetti 7, 56mins), Kewley-Graham 7, Palmer 7, Kabba 6 (Ryan 8, 39mins), Arthur 7. Att: 837