New manager Steve Poulton made a winning start as Hayling United beat Hamworthy United 2-1 at the College Ground in the Wessex League premier division.
The Humbugs showed their battling qualities, coming from behind to score twice in the final 20 minutes through Aaron Fisher and Lee Tigwell.
The win moved them level on points with closest rivals Laverstock & Ford at the bottom and provided Poulton with a huge boost.
‘When we went behind it looked as though we wouldn’t get the result our performance deserved,’ said Poulton.
‘But all credit to the lads they dug in and their improved fitness paid off in the closing stages.
‘The target is to stay in the premier division but we know it is going to be tough.
‘We are a local club that don’t pay any money and rely on local lads coming here to enjoy their football.
‘Already we have shown that we raise our game against the better sides.
‘Now we have to make sure we step it up against teams just above us.’
Substitute Aaron Fisher grabbed the Humbugs vital equaliser on 70 minutes, sidefooting home the rebound after Jack Salter-Vaile’s shot came back off the goalkeeper.
Ten minutes from time, Lee Tigwell’s corner found its way through a crowded goalmouth and over the line for a dramatic winner.
Fareham Town maintained their unbeaten start to the year with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Newport IOW.
Both sides had chances to win the game but a draw was the fair result.
‘We had a couple of good chances but both teams were well-organised at the back,’ said Reds manager Matt Parr.
‘In previous games we have been a bit too open and have been vulnerable so we made a few changes to the way we play.
‘It means we are less vulnerable.’
Rob Tambling, twice, and youngster Sean Dark missed the best chances.
But the visitors were also indebted to a good second-half save from goalkeeper Luke Douglas.
Three goals in the opening half-hour condemned struggling Horndean to a 4-1 defeat at third-placed GE Hamble.
The visitors could only manage a late consolation through an own goal.
‘Their two forwards up front caused us all sorts of problems and we didn’t pick them up early on,’ said Horndean manager Dave Carter.
‘Once we got the Christmas cobwebs out of the system it was different but we left ourselves with far too much to do.’