STEVE CLARIDGE hit the winner on his debut for Gosport Borough to see off Sholing 1-0 in the FA Trophy at Privett Park.
The former Pompey striker showed his quality by calmly slotting the goal that earned Borough a £2,200 windfall and a place in the next round of the prestigious competition.
As ever with socks turned down to his ankles, Claridge, aged 45, took just 27 first-half minutes to show his pedigree.
He latched on to a pass from Justin Bennett to fire across former Fareham keeper Lee Webber into the net.
And the whole-hearted Claridge played as though his life depended on it, until he was substituted on 82 minutes, replaced by a striker less than half his age, in former Hawks youngster Liam Sewell.
It wasn’t all the Claridge show, as Borough’s defence repelled everything Sholing threw at them.
Defender Gavin Jones went on to take the man-of-the-match award.
And keeper Nathan Ashmore, on loan from Shaun Gale’s Hawks, was also in tremendous form.
Ashmore produced acrobatic saves to thwart both Byron Mason and Iain Seabrook.
At the other end, Ian Jones came off the bench for Borough to go close with a blistering effort and Bennett was just off target with a thumping header.
As Borough trooped off at the final whistle, they were given a fine reception by the fans, just as new goal-hero Claridge was when he departed earlier.
‘Any thoughts that fans may have that Steve Claridge was brought in as part of a publicity stunt, should pay us a visit and see for themselves how wrong they can be,’ said club president John Stimpson.
‘Steve has brought with him a massive amount of experience and is here to play and coach and has already shown what he is all about.
‘It was a typically hard-fought cup tie and a local derby that we deserved to win, though it was always going to be close against a Sholing side who are always hard to beat.
‘We want to go as far as possible in this competition.’