Liam Sewell helped Gosport Borough banish their Christmas blues with a hat-trick in their 4-0 win at Didcot Town in the Southern League division one south & west.
One point from a possible six over the holiday period had damaged Borough’s promotion credentials.
But they got back on track with a confident second-half performance.
Another win in tonight’s crucial clash against second-placed Hungerford Town at Privett Park (7.45pm) will catapult Borough into the play-off places.
‘It is a massive game but we can go into it with confidence after our performance at Didcot,’ said Borough assistant manager Mick Catlin.
‘After our blip over Christmas, it was just what we needed.
‘Didcot worked hard but lacked any real quality to threaten us.
‘Liam came in and was superb, producing the performance we have been waiting for from him.
‘He stepped up to the plate and showed great pace and power to grab a terrific hat-trick.
‘He has been a bit unlucky with injury but, with Steve Claridge struggling with a groin problem, he now has a chance.’
Keeper Nathan Ashmore made two good saves from long-range wind-assisted efforts before Borough broke the deadlock, 10 minutes before the break. Brett Poate swung in a quality ball from the left and Sewell looped his header over the keeper.
Sewell got his second, two minutes into the second half, before adding his third on 68 minutes.
Poate rifled in a trademark free-kick for 4-0, before the home side missed a late penalty.
Catlin said: ‘We have a big incentive to beat Hungerford tonight but games against them are always close. It will be a tough encounter and we know that we will have to be at our best defensively.
‘Then it will be down to who keeps their nerve to finish their chances.’
Aiden Lewis, who made a good debut at the weekend, will continue at full-back but Adam Wilde faces a fitness test on his hamstring problem.
Gavin Jones, Claridge and Nathan Kirby are still out.