Co-boss Dave Fear professed himself “very disappointed” as Sholing blew a 2-0 lead against table-topping Yate Town in the Southern One South & West at the Silverlake Arena this afternoon.
Leading through summer signing Braiden Hamilton and an own goal at the break, the Boatmen had the tables turned on them in the second-half by a Lewis Haldane hat-trick and a Nuno Felix cracker as the visitors went home 4-2 victors.
There was little doing for the first ten minutes as both teams got a feel for the game, but Yate’s risky habit of stroking the ball around at the back was to work against them as fit-again Lewis Fennemore broke play up and stole possession.
He played in former Brockenhurst striker Braiden Hamilton who was fouled by Joe Chandler on the edge of the ‘D’.
Alex Sawyer slammed the free-kick into the defensive wall and the ball was played back into the box where Stuart Mott headed down for HAMILTON to sweep home his first competitive goal for the club.
Yate briefly rallied with Tom Warren firing a long range shot from the right just over, but it was a brief respite for the League leaders.
With 14 minutes gone the boatmen made it 2-0 when T J Cuthbertson sent Nick Watts away on an electrifying run down the right.
The pacy winger cut inside, skipping through the Yate backline as if they weren’t there and his low shot towards the far corner was diverted into his own net by visiting defender MITCH TIPPINS.
Yate responded with another strike from distance with Jake Jackson’s first-time shot going narrowly past Matt Brown’s left-hand post.
On 25 minutes Watts slipped the ball through to Barry Mason, skippering the side in the absence of brother Byron, but two defenders quickly converged on the Sholing No. 9 to hack the ball away for a corner.
Mason sent in a low delivery which eventually fell for defender Dan Miller who sent an acrobatic effort well wide.
The Boatmen suffered a blow towards the half-hour mark when Fennemore went off injured, but they had the experience of Kevin Brewster to bring off the bench.
It took 32 minutes for home keeper Brown to be tested after Miller had headed Tippins’ cross behind for a corner.
The big, blond defender again got his head to the flag kick and it fell for Dale Evans to unleash a fierce but centrally placed blast which Brown had covered all the way.
Yate began knocking the ball around with more confidence as the half drew towards a close and Lewis Haldane wasn’t too far away with a curling effort on the left.
But it was Sholing who had the last meaningful chance of the half when Mason headed on for the livewire Watts to cleverly hook the ball past his marker but his left foot shot was wayward.
Half-time: Sholing 2 Yate 0 It was backs to the wall stuff for the FA Vase winners at the start of the second half with Jackson twice unlucky for Yate.
First he was played in by Chandler and looped an effort against the bar and then Brown denied him with a smart tip-over.
Sholing’s Wembley hero Marvyn McLean was then denied by keeper Martin Horsell’s legs after scampering onto Mason’s crossfield pass, but it was the visitors who struck next.
Yate won a free header from a corner and HALDANE put Brown under pressure before bundling the ball home in the 62nd minute.
The Boatmen’s sub Danny Cox introduced in place of Sawyer, had the next shot on target after some neat football but it was straight at Horsell.
With Yate’s football now justifying their lofty league position, Sholing had an enormous let-off on 68 minutes when Tippins crashed a shot off the inside of the far post and Haldane somehow missed the follow-up.
But with the home defence under massive pressure HALDANE struck again two minutes later turning onto a pass from the right and squeezing a low, equaliser just inside Brown’s left-hand post.
A defensive blunder almost cost Sholing minutes later but a less than impressed Brown stretched to reach Jackson’s lofted shot.
Mason, who had now been joined by brother Daniel in place of Hamilton, clipped the top of the bar as Sholing attempted to claw back the lead.
The skipper was then booked for fouling sub Brad Abraham and Haldane appealed in vain for hand-ball as he thumped the free-kick into the home wall.
But his frustration turned to smiles with eight minutes to go as he completed his hat-trick – and a superb comeback by Yate – with a cheeky back-heel after another dangerous Tippins delivery from the right.
Watts, still full of running, had a chance to equalise on the break but got crowded out before he could get a shot away.
Then, in the 90th minute, Horsell saved Yate with a superb reaction save as Mott met Brewsters free-kick with a point-blank header.
But the game was up for Sholing in the opening seconds of stoppage time when substitute NUNO FELIX beat Brown with a stunning strike from 20 yards to make it 4-2 to the visitors.