AFC Portchester deepened Fareham Town’s Wessex League premier division relegation woes with a 2-1 derby win at Cams Alders.
After a goalless first half, Luke Sweeney swept the Royals into the lead early in the second period.
If we are to avoid relegation it is going to have to be the late show and a great escapeFareham Town boss Matt Parr
A deflected Bradey Norton free-kick dragged the home side level but Royals substitute Nikolai Littleton settled the issue 13 minutes from time with a long-range free-kick.
The defeat leaves Fareham firmly anchored at the foot of the league – five points adrift of safety with just three games left to play.
Reds manager Matt Parr accepts his team’s situation is desperate but praised his players for their efforts.
‘We put in another excellent performance and matched one of the best teams in our league for long periods,’ said Parr.
‘I can’t fault the spirit, application and effort of my players.
‘Unfortunately we couldn’t get the result we needed and it is going to be tough.
‘If we are to avoid relegation it is going to have to be the late show and a great escape.
‘The only consolation is that our closest rivals have some tough fixtures to play.
‘Our lifeline is pretty thin though and we are running out of time.
‘If we do go down, then the players are determined to do it with their heads held high.’
In contrast, AFC Portchester have gone from strength to strength since Christmas suffering just one defeat.
After a difficult first half of the season, the Royals turned the corner and the latest win takes them up to third in the league above rivals Moneyfields.
Director of football Mick Jenkins believes the turnaround results from a lot of hard work put in behind the scenes at the club.
‘Graham Rix (AFC Portchester boss) and Steve Johnson (assistant manager) have worked hard with the players and brought a lot of the youngsters on,’ said Jenkins.
‘In the first half of the season we didn’t have a settled side and it showed.
‘The future is looking bright for the club and that is down to a real team effort on and off the pitch.’
– KEVIN RICKETTS