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Stand-in bosses fail to stop the rot
NOT even a temporary change of manager could buck Poppies' losing trend as substitute Liam Bradbury's injury time winner snaffled a 3-2 victory for Fareham.
Luck continued to desert the seemingly cursed Victoria Park outfit on and off the pitch as boss Ken Vaughan missed the clash after his return from holiday was delayed.
His son, injured Poppies keeper Kenny Vaughan Jnr, took charge alongside senior player Fawzi Saadi.
But despite a hard-working display, panicked play during the final five minutes cost crestfallen Poppies a precious point as Kane Andrews' misplaced pass was pounced upon with Bradbury curling home a 20-yard winner a minute into added time.
It wasn't the first time the Bournemouth midfielder had been involved after playing a pivotal part in goals for both sides during the first half.
Andrews was caught in possession by Graham Lindsey who drew one of a number of smart stops from Poppies keeper Sean Lillington, but Ashley Tattersall was on hand to slot home the rebound for the visitors in the 38th minute.
But Andrews quickly atoned for his error by thumping home a far post header just two minutes later.
Fareham started the second half purposefully and regained their advantage four minutes after the restart when Lindsey's deft touch played Gary Austin down the left to find the far corner of Lillington's net.
The hosts looked like they had finally caught their break when Ricky Lane's free kick took a significant deflection off Pittman before flying past Sam Bunton with 15 minutes to play.
But in their desperation to cling on, Poppies dropped deeper and received a warning shot when Lindsey somehow headed against the crossbar from inside the six-yard box with 10 minutes to play.
However, the beleaguered hosts didn't heed the warning and Bradbury was on hand to condemn pointless Poppies to their eighth consecutive Wessex Premier defeat.
But while the Poppies players dropped to the floor like a team that had lost the World Cup final on penalties, Vaughan Jnr insisted the squad's mood was buoyant after their closest call of the campaign.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper and stand-in gaffer told the Daily Echo: “The spirit is still good because the lads know they were in the game.
“We have made a slow, steady improvement each week and a draw would have been a fair result. We had as much play as they had and matched their work rate but we just lacked the quality and experience to see it out.
“It was an absolutely horrendous way to lose, and while you could see it coming in the last five or 10 minutes it was still a massive improvement from where we were.
“We have several players to come back in and their experience will make all the difference.”
Poppies: Lillington, Martinez (Hales, 57), Jackson, Austin, Burgis, Andrews, Burt (Cooper, 72), Ayrton, Lane, Robinson, Phillips (Turner, 86). Unused subs: Pearce, Vaughan.
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