Petersfield Town manager Ian Saunders paid tribute to hat-trick hero Warren Hunt after their impressive 4-2 win over Newport at Love Lane.
Hunt’s goalscoring heroics helped Town close the gap on Wessex League premier division leaders Moneyfields to a single point.
‘Warren has been a fantastic signing for us,’ said Saunders.
‘Not only has he made a major contribution with 19 goals, he has proved a great role model to the younger players at the club.
‘When Alex Ward hasn’t been available he has been captain and done a great job.’
The Rams had to come from behind after the Newport side, packed with experienced players, took a 14th-minute lead.
Hunt made sure his side went in level at the break by converting a penalty after a handball in the Newport area.
Nine minutes into the second half he combined well with fellow striker Andy Todd before crashing a low 25-yard drive into the corner of the net.
Hunt completed his hat-trick when visiting goalkeeper Cameron Farley spilled his shot over the line.
In a tense finale, the visitors pulled a goal back through former Hawks striker Scott Jones but Alex Lowley sealed the win in stoppage-time.
‘Both teams tried to play football on a very heavy pitch,’ said Saunders.
‘Newport were a bit more direct than us and got the ball into dangerous areas.
‘We had to defend well and it was good to see Lewis Hyde back for us in the heart of the defence.
‘It was his first senior game back after his broken leg.
‘Once we went in front we took charge of the game.
‘Apart from a few squeeky-bum moments towards the end we were worthy winners.’
Saunders was also pleased with the performance of ex-Moneyfields midfielder Danny Boyle on his debut.
Boyle has signed for the Love Lane outfit after 18 months in Australia.
Horndean’s game at Totton & Eling was postponed.
The eagerly-awaited Friday night derby between Moneyfields and AFC Portchester was also a victim of the weather with the Dover Road pitch waterlogged.