Lee Paul paid tribute to his Hayling United battlers after their rousing final day 4-2 win over Lymington Town hauled them off the bottom of the Wessex League premier division.
The Humbugs now have to play the waiting game to find out if the win earned them a reprieve from relegation.
The Wessex League have indicated they don’t yet know if they will be relegating one or two teams from the premier division.
If it is just one, Hayling will be saved.
And if Paul’s side escape it will be a fine reward for his hard work and composure during a difficult season for the club.
‘Hopefully this result might save us,’ said Paul.
‘You never know but, whatever happens, my players put one heck of a performance in against a top-10 side.
‘They showed their true spirit, character and how good they can be.
‘It showed on our day we are a good team who can compete at this level.
‘If I’d had the core of this team at the start of the season then we wouldn’t have been in any trouble.’
The sides went in 1-1 at the break but both goals were extremely suspect.
On eight minutes the New Forest visitors were harshly penalised for a deliberate back-pass inside their own area and Jason Clements laid the ball back for Dan Martin to thrash high into the net from just eight yards.
Eight minutes later it was Paul’s turn to be incensed when a clear Hayling throw-in was quickly taken by the visitors and ended in a corner from which the equaliser was scored.
In the circumstances it was understandable that Paul’s composure, for once, was lost and he was dismissed from the dug-out for his comments.
Knowing that nothing less than a win was good enough, the home side upped their game at the start of the second half.
Within two minutes of the restart Martin tucked home his second goal of the game after the goalkeeper failed to hold Rob Tambling’s fierce drive.
And, on 56 minutes, striker Lenny Burney was rewarded for his brave, hardworking performance, drilling a shot into the bottom corner from just inside the area.
The home side couldn’t relax, though, as Lymington hit back within five minutes to reduce the deficit and nerves began to show in the Humbugs camp.
Substitute Carl Kirby calmed the nerves 13 minutes from time, heading in from virtually on the goalline after the keeper knocked a free-kick up into the air.
With news filtering through that closest rivals Brockenhurst were losing, Hayling strengthened their resolve and held out for the victory.
‘The players rose to the challenge and after the long season I am chuffed to bits for them,’ said Paul.
‘I have spoken to the lads and most of them are committed to stay so, whatever happens and in whichever league we are playing, we have built a good foundation.’