SHOLING are back in the Sydenhams Premier box seat after ousting AFC Portchester from top spot with a 2-1 win at the Universal Stadium.

A bumper crowd of 548 turned out for the club’s community day – the majority of them youngsters from the Boatmen’s youth teams, their parents and coaches.

Before the match manager Dave Diaper picked up an award for his stunning achievement of reaching 1,000 games in charge.

Club legends Trevor Lewis and Bill Boyle did the presentation honours and Portchester kindly joined in the guard of honour for the long-serving boss.

On a big day for Sholing, they also received the Sydenhams Premier club-of-the-month award for August.

After that sort of build-up, a Boatmen’s victory was the only suitable outcome and, thanks to goals from Jake Hoole and Byron Mason, they managed to keep their 100 per cent league record intact.

Sholing got their breakthrough on 22 minutes when Byron Mason muscled past a defender and had his shot pushed out by Royals keeper Tom Price at full stretch. It landed at the feet of Hoole, who took a touch and guided the ball inside the far post for his third goal of the season.

Having just taken National League South outfit Slough Town to an FA Cup replay and extra time, the Boatmen could have been forgiven for flagging.

Instead, they managed to double their advantage four minutes into the second half – without top scorer Dan Mason who was withdrawn at half-time so he could get ready for best man duties at a friend’s wedding.

Big brother Byron, playing in a more advanced role, ensured the Mason name was still etched on the scoresheet. It was his first of the season - and well worth the wait.

Controlling the ball in his stride, he left two defenders in his wake before slipping a left-foot shot past the onrushing Price from 15 yards.

Portchester hit an instant reply with a quality strike of their own – Steve Ramsey arrowing a shot into the corner from 25 yards.

With Sholing tiring, the Royals came more into the game and home keeper Ryan Gosney denied them with a smart save on 89 minutes.

Sholing, who had already had a Dan Miller ‘goal’ disallowed for a foul on the keeper, almost grabbed a third at the death when, with Price going up for a Portchester corner, the ball was cleared to Lee Wort.

The pacy striker ran into the visitors’ half before shooting towards the unguarded net. It curled away from the target and sub Billy Connor busted a gut to get there and knock it in, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.

Reflecting on a hard-fought win, Diaper said: “The boys were mentally and physically spent after Tuesday.

“We had a few injuries as well, which didn’t help matters, and we knew it was going to be a tough game.

“There were some tired legs out there, but to come through that and get a win against a very good side and go top of the table says a lot about the spirit and character we’ve got here.”

Looking back on his Sholing years, he added: “When I came here, the club were VT and had no floodlights, no changing rooms, no stands or perimeter fence.

“There was no identity in the place, so it’s been an honour and privilege to witness how far we’ve come.

"We want to be able to push on and look to go for the league title and promotion this season.

"We’re certainly good enough for that and Sholing is a special club to be a part of.”

Sholing host rock-bottom Andover New Street tomorrow (Tuesday, 7.45pm).