Fareham boss Matt Parr heaped praise on his side after their gutsy 1-0 victory over this season’s surprise-package Alresford Town.
Parr returned to the Cams Alders hot seat after missing the midweek win at Fawley to celebrate the birth of his son Ian.
Alresford were expected to make his return a tough one as they aimed to further climb the Wessex League premier division table.
And they did just that, making the home side fight every minute for their victory after Gary Austin opened the scoring after 30 minutes.
That left Parr full of pride at the final whistle as his side hung on to claim another important three points.
‘My lads were really up against a very good side and survived to win a very close contest simply because of keeping their shape and superb disciplined defending,’ said Parr.
‘It was a really good weekend for everyone at the club – back-to-back wins have pushed us up the league table to where we want to be.
‘Defensively, we were at our best and needed to be, otherwise, I feel Alresford could have taken a point.
‘But the lads got stuck in and effectively made sure Gary Austin’s goal was enough to win the match.’
Parr’s sentiments seemed about right, although better finishing from Alresford striker Zack Glasspool would surely have tipped the balance in their favour.
But while Glasspool had an afternoon he would rather forget, the Reds’ Austin had one to remember.
He contributed much over the 90 minutes and thoroughly deserved his goal after meeting Wayne Boud’s inch-perfect cross to head high into the net.
Up to that point, Fareham had dominated much of the play.
But, once behind, Alresford took over – although found their hosts in no mood to roll over, particularly when Parr brought Matt Jones and Matt Burt off the substitutes’ bench in the second half to add their experience in defence.
While Burt made himself busy tracking back to make effective challenges, Jones slotted in alongside Louie Martin and Kieran Lewis to deal with anything that Glasspool and fellow striker Mike McEnery could conjure up between them.
And as Alresford ran out of ideas, Fareham saw out the final few minutes with ease to earn themselves maximum points that they had doggedly refused to share.
‘The win will hopefully boost the confidence of the lads ahead of away matches coming up at Bournemouth Poppies tomorrow night and Hamworthy at the weekend,’ added Parr.
Goal-machine Simon Woods took his goal tally to 20 in 14 games as his hat-trick helped earn AFC Portchester a 3-1 win at New Milton Town.
Woods, returning to the starting line-up after injury, soon made up for lost time and could have scored more.
‘His movement and pace up front is frightening,’ said Portchester manager Glenn Bridgman.
‘When he is in the side it makes a huge difference.
‘He could easily have scored six.
‘The lad scored from three difficult chances and missed three one-on-ones with their goalkeeper.
‘We know other clubs are watching him but he is happy playing with us.’
Horndean missed two penalties as they crashed to a 5-3 defeat at Totton & Eling.
Both Simon Stone and Chamal Fenelon missed from the spot to leave manager Dave Carter cutting a frustrated figure.
‘Totton & Eling must have thought Christmas had come early,’ said Carter. ‘We gifted them four goals with schoolboy errors.’
Horndean’s cause wasn’t helped when captain Tom Chapman failed to turn up, forcing Carter to reshuffle his backline. Fenelon grabbed a brace, with Nathan Paxton also finding the net for Horndean.