ALEX Baldacchino returned to haunt his old club Sholing in Saturday’s 1-1 Sydenhams Premier Division draw at the Universal Stadium.

The AFC Portchester marksman struck after 33 minutes – just reward for the visitors who had played the better football in the opening half-hour.

A left-wing corner arrived in the Sholing box and Baldacchino met it with a firm, first-time shot that squeezed inside the near post.

Sholing emerged more fired-up for the second half, playing the ball around at a higher tempo and using their overlapping full-backs to good effect.

Dan Mason had a shot kicked away from inside the six-yard box on 51 minutes and Dan Miller’s follow-up struck the prone ‘keeper who had dived for the initial attempt.

The equaliser eventually arrived on 74 minutes when TJ Cuthbertson delivered a right-wing cross at head height and in came Dan Mason, back to goal, to slam a spectacular overhead kick into the net for a truly stunning finish.

He almost grabbed a second two minutes later when his 18-yard shot deflected off a defender and over the bar.

Sholing continued to push for a winner and came close again when Jamie Bulpitt poked the ball towards the far corner and Royals 'keeper Cameron Scott scrambled across to claw it out.

It wasn’t to be for the Boatmen, but the draw made it 14 games unbeaten as they stay third in the Premier Division table.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, 7.45pm), Sholing continue their defence of the Southampton Senior Cup with a third round trip to Brockenhurst.

Several Boatmen’s youngsters who have been in and around the first-team are unlikely to feature tonight.

The likes of Jean-Luc Ramdin, Owen Royl, Frazer McLean and Harry Butler will be saved for Wednesday's huge FA Youth Cup second round tie at Leyton Orient (Wednesday, 7.30pm) – the furthest Sholing’s under-18s have ever got in the competition.

AFC Portchester tomorrow (Tuesday) pay a Sydenhams League Cup third round visit to Horndean, who are licking their wounds after Saturday's 1-0 league defeat at Team Solent.

Hisham Kasimu’s 34th-minute strike proved the difference between the sides and, by Deans' boss Michael Birmingham’s own admission, the damage could have been far worse.

Jamal Wiseman steered an effort past the ’keeper and onto the post and Kasimu also hit the Horndean woodwork, twice, along with Silvano Obeng.

“The best team won on the day. I have no grumbles with the result,” said Birmingham. "They could have been out of sight."

For on-song Solent, it was a fourth straight league and cup win ahead of tonight’s (Monday, 7.45pm) Sydenhams Premier visit of Newport IW to Test Park.