Hayling perform another Houdini act

Hayling celebrate earning the draw they needed. Picture: Malcolm Wells
Hayling celebrate earning the draw they needed. Picture: Malcolm Wells
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Houdini United have done it again.

Hayling may well consider a name change after pulling off another dramatic Great Escape.

They did it in 2011 and have repeated the trick in 2012.

In true Hayling style it was a tense finish.

The Humbugs secured the point they needed in a 3-3 home draw against New Milton Town – but they nearly threw it all away in the second half.

It all looked plain sailing as the home side, with the strong wind behind them, cruised into a three-goal lead at the interval.

Alex Easton netted twice and Steve Black got the other.

New Milton hit back in the second half and in the end the Humbugs had to fight an epic rearguard action to deny them a fourth.

‘I have never been so relieved to hear a final whistle in my life,’ said manager Steve Poulton.

‘We rode our luck a bit in the end, surviving a couple of good chances and clearing another off the line.

‘It was nerve-racking but we kept them at bay.

‘Staying up has taken a lot of courage and guts from the players.

‘Four or five games ago we were dead and buried and everyone had us written off.

‘I knew we had a run in us though, and to do it at the end of the season is fantastic.

‘The lads deserved to stay up after their efforts over the last few weeks.’

The Humbugs made the perfect start with Easton rifling home a penalty after just 25 seconds.

‘It took a lot of bottle because he’s missed his last two,’ said Poulton.

Midway through the half Easton grabbed his second, firing home after a goalmouth scramble.

And Black extended the lead.

The home side looked in no danger.

But things changed when the visitors hit two quick goals.

They then made it 3-3 to pile on the nerves.

Poulton’s side regrouped, however, and kept New Milton at bay.

On a day when the result was crucial, Poulton had praise for Drayton official Lucy May and her team.

‘We are often quick to criticise officials but Lucy May and her assistants were brilliant,’ he said.

‘It was tense and they handled it just right.’