AFC Portchester showed their rivals they are coming for them after a 3-1 Wessex League premier division win against Hamworthy United at the Blanchard Wells Stadium.
A Steve Ramsey header gave the home side a half-time lead and Jake Morgan added a second goal soon after the break.
Then 16-year-old substitute Brandon Miller secured the win 20 minutes from the end.
Joint boss Mick Catlin revealed the Royals knew it was an important match.
He said: ‘We played well, controlled the game and were worthy winners.
‘Before the game Ian Saunders and I knew this was a game where we needed to lay a marker down.
‘Hamworthy were third and that is where we are realistically aiming to finish.
‘If we are going to achieve that then we need to beat the teams above us.’
Baffins Milton Rovers suffered a disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Shaftesbury.
Manager Louis Bell felt his side paid a heavy price for missing chances.
‘We had so much possession particularly in the first half,’ said the boss.
‘After the break we didn’t get our act together and they scored from two of our mistakes.
‘We created chance after chance but didn’t put them away.’
Boss Pete Stiles admitted Fareham Town far from their best in the 3-2 defeat against Amesbury Town at Cams Alders.
‘It was a bad day at the office,’ he said.
‘Some key players were missing and it showed.
‘We weren’t switched on at the start and soon found ourselves two goals down.
‘They were up for it more than us but by the end I felt we had done enough to get a point.
Josh Holmes pulled a goal back just before the interval with both teams scoring from the penalty spot after the break.
Ethan Jones made no mistake for the Reds.
Horndean won 4-2 at home to Petersfield Town.
Goals from Miles Everett, Danny Boyle and Josh Maloney made it 3-0.
Josh Wycherley and Luke Kendall replied for the Rams before Maloney wrapped up the three points for the home side.