Local teams come out on top in midweek Wessex Premier action
IT WAS a positive night for the three local sides in midweek Wessex Premier action, with Bashley, Brockenhurst and Christchurch winning.
Bashley won to stretch their unbeaten run to an incredible 10 games, while Brockenhurst kept their promotion hunt alive with victory against Amesbury Town.
At the other end of the table, Christchurch picked up a vital victory over Alresford Town to move within two points of league safety.
Despite playing with 10-men, a late Bashley penalty beat Cowes Sports to force their way into the promotion picture with an astonishing ninth win from their last 10 games.
With the match still goalless, a red card to Lewis Ross left the New Forest side with a mountain to climb with half an hour left to play. However, an 88th-minute penalty from Adam Grange sparked joyous celebrations.
Bashley had multiple chances in the first half; the best of these was a potential screamer from the boot of Sam Jackson with 10 minutes of the half left.
The lively Ross was causing Cowes Sports plenty of problems, but a red card for a harsh challenge left his side playing a player short.
Paul Morris shifted his side's formation into a 4-3-2 shape as they continued to try and play positively.
The approach paid dividends when, with three minutes left, they won a penalty after a poor challenge in the area. Player of the match Grange stepped up and nervelessly secured all three points.
Brockenhurst overcame a red card after 35 minutes to end a winless run of three games and return to winning ways with a 2-1 away win over Amesbury Town.
The Badgers looked to be on course for a relatively comfortable night when silky left-footed midfielder Kieran O'Donnell beat Nathaniel Taylor to find the back of the net after 15 minutes.
However, an Amesbury goal from Josh Moore 10 minutes after Badger's top-scorer Silvano Obeng received a red card left Patrick McManus's side looking down the barrel of a third straight defeat.
However, the New Forest side showed their fighting spirit, a spirit typified by Mitchell Speechley-Price, who scored the winning goal five minutes after the break.
After a tough run of five straight defeats, Christchurch grasped a lifeline in their fight to avoid the drop with a hard-fought one-nil win over Alresford Town.
The two sides played out a very even first half, with both sides struggling to find any proper rhythm on a lively pitch. However, Brazilian striker Eder Batista showed his class with a tidy finish past keeper Myles Bowman after the break.
The lethal marksman has been Christchurch's stand-out player all year, and with 15 leagues goals, he is comfortably their top goal-scorer.
Callum Brooks' men now have a fighting chance of staying up, with three of their last five games coming against sides in the bottom eight.