Michael Birmingham has praised the never-say-die spirit of Horndean after a terrific second-half comeback earned a 4-2 Wessex League premier division win at Hamworthy United.
A Robbie Tambling brace along with goals from Joe Richardson and Jack Maloney completed the turnaround after the Deans had trailed 2-0.
The win provided further evidence Birmingham’s young side are coming of age and showing maturity when things are going against them.
The boss said: ‘If teams are going to beat us then they will have to work hard for 90 minutes.
‘We have the enthusiasm and exuberance that you get with a young team.
‘With that they showed they won’t give up – even when they find themselves up against it.
‘In this game we were playing on an alien 3G surface and found a lot of decisions going against us.
‘It would have been easy for the players to drop their heads, particularly after falling two goals behind.
‘But that is not their way and they showed real character to fight back and win the game.’
Horndean started well, creating a couple of good opportunities in the opening five minutes.
They failed to make them count, however, and began to find the slow, sluggish surface difficult to master.
Birmingham felt they were doing okay individually but were not gelling as a unit.
The home side took the lead after 20 minutes when the Deans failed to defend a cross.
A second followed soon after the break but Horndean got themselves back into it within two minutes.
Maloney sent in a pin-point free-kick and Tambling scored with a great header.
Soon afterwards, fine work by Sam Smart left Tambling with a simple tap-in to level the scores.
Birmingham added: ‘After going 2-0 down we upped our work-rate.
‘Once we got back in it we were the only team going to go on and win. My team were phenomenal.
‘When it got a bit naughty in the closing stages and tackles started to fly in we kept our discipline.’
Richardson made it 3-2 with a great volley from the edge of the box.
Maloney then completed the fightback on 85 minutes when he cut inside two defenders and drilled a shot into the bottom far corner of the net.
The win consolidated a top-eight spot for Horndean ahead of their big derby showdown at league leaders Moneyfields on December 27.
Birmingham admits his team are not realistic title challengers.
At the same time, though, he reckons they can have a big say in who does finally lift the trophy.
‘We still have to play a number of the top sides and are capable of causing a few upsets,’ said Birmingham.
Horndean: Price, Wain, Walker, Hookey, Smith M, Leigh, Duffin, Humble, Maloney J, Richardson, Tambling. Subs: Read, Smart, Warren