HAYLING United ‘boss’ Steve Poulton was remaining positive despite his side surrendering a two-goal advantage at home to Bemerton Heath Harlequins.
With manager Lee Paul swapping his usual tracksuit for a Humbugs jersey, Poulton occupied the dugout in his place last night.
And the stand-in boss was in jubilant spirits after guiding his team to a valuable 2-2 draw against the Wessex League’s top side.
‘It’s always disappointing to lose a lead, but if someone had offered me a point before the game, I would have taken it,’ said Poulton.
‘I think we just needed to stop the rot and give a performance, and that was a performance which the boys can be proud of.
‘It is difficult to lose a two-goal lead but if you look at the positives, we lost 6-0 to Alresford, we’ve taken a 9-0 battering from Winchester, yet we’ve come away with a good draw this time.’
Although content with the solitary point, Poulton had initially thought Hayling may register their second league victory of the season after taking the lead through Paul’s sweeping free-kick and getting a fortuitous second from Lee Tigwell’s set piece.
But the visitors fought back on 40 minutes to snatch a crucial goal, before adding to their tally five minutes after the interval.
And, despite defender Scott Thornton receiving his marching orders for a deliberate handball, Hayling held on to secure a vital draw in their bid to escape the relegation zone.
Louis Bell’s brace helped Horndean thrash his dad’s Blackfield & Langley side 5-0.
Nathan Paxton came off the bench to add a double of his own for the Deans, while Dan Martin notched the other in the Wessex premier clash.
‘It was only 1-0 at the break, but Blackfield gave up a bit in the second-half,’ said Deans chairman David Sagar.
‘It’s a great result which really sets up Saturday’s clash against league leaders, Bemerton Heath.’
Also in action were Fareham Town, who slipped to their second premier division defeat in four days, at Alresford Town.
Matt Parr’s men fall to 13th in the table following the 3-2 defeat at Arlesbury Park.
There was extra-time despair for Southern League Gosport Borough, as they were knocked out of the Red Insure Cup in a 3-2 loss at AFC Totton.
Alex Pike’s men twice took the lead in a topsy-turvy clash, which saw both sides reduced to 10 men.
The hosts’ keeper was the first to receive his marching orders after giving away a free-kick outside his box in the 17th minute.
From the resulting set piece, Lee Molyneaux opened the scoring. After Totton had levelled things up, Dan Wooden restored Borough’s lead and looked to have sent the visitors into the second round of the competition.
However, Gosport had Ellis Martin sent off for a second bookable offence and then conceded in the 88th minute to take the clash into extra-time, where Totton grabbed the winner five minutes in.