Michael Birmingham was a relieved man as Horndean kicked off their Wessex League premier division season with a derby win at Cams Alders.
The Deans held on for a 2-1 victory over Fareham after they were reduced to 10 men.
First-half goals from Ash Howes and Conor Duffin had put the Deans in command.
But the game changed on 65 minutes when Ian Humble was sent off and Simon Woods netted from the spot.
Fareham, who themselves had Tom Froggatt dismissed in stoppage-time, pressed for an equaliser but the Deans held out.
Birmingham reckons it was a good lesson for his troops.
The Hordean boss said: ‘It is great to start with a win but we made hard work of it.
‘We dominated the first half and the game should have been dead and buried by half-time.
‘Their goalkeeper made some good saves and we missed chances.
‘We must learn to put teams away when we get the chance.
‘Once we went down to 10 men we had to scrap for it and that is what we did.
‘Some of my boys became men tonight.’
In a frenetic start, Horndean needed just five minutes to open their account for the season.
Reds keeper Luke Douglas denied Miles Everett with a fine save but the visitors scored from the resulting corner when Howes turned in Mark Smith’s cross-shot.
After Douglas had saved a Conor Duffin header, Horndean’s Humble was booked for a scything challenge on Curt Robbins.
Josh Holmes sliced wide for Fareham on 39 minutes.
And 60 seconds later Horndean extended their lead with Dan Sackman hooking in Jack Maloney’s free-kick.
At the start of the second half, Douglas turned away a Smith shot before Eliot Roberts was desperately unlucky to see his 20-yard volley bounce back off the Horndean crossbar.
Fareham did get back into the game on 65 minutes after Ash Tattersall was sent flying in the area by Humble.
Humble was sent off for his second booking and Woods fired home his spot-kick.
The Reds sensed they could rescue the game and twice Harding saved with his legs to deny Woods an equaliser.
In stoppage-time, Froggatt was sent off for dissent as Fareham failed to level.
Fareham Town: Douglas, Castles, James, Holmes, Laycock, Froggatt, Roberts, Davis, Woods, Robbins, Tattersall. Subs: Heard, Jones, Gibson, Shadbolt, Grimshaw
Horndean: Harding, Reed, Wain, Hookey, Sackman, Humble, Maloney Jack, Howes, Smith, Everett, Duffin. Subs: Maloney Josh, Freeman, Tigwell, Boyle
n Goals from Harry Jackson, Tyler Moret and Lewis Stockford gave Baffins Milton Rovers a winning start in the premier division with a 3-1 triumph over Petersfield Town at Love Lane.
n AFC Portchester slipped to a 1-0 premier division defeat against Alresford Town at the Blanchard Wells Stadium.