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Non-league: Christchurch battle back to win nine-goal thriller at Horndean
BOSS Michael Cuffie praised his Christchurch clan for keeping their heads and emerging victorious from the whirlwind of a nine-goal thriller at Horndean.
Priory fought back from a 3-1 deficit before the interval to run out 5-4 winners despite seeing talisman Mark Smith, who had bagged a first-half brace, dismissed after going 4-3 up.
Lenny Burney’s 25-yard blockbuster lit the blue touch paper after just five minutes, and while the ever-green Smith soon levelled matters, the Deans took charge through Dan Sharp’s strike and Burney’s second.
However, Smith completed his double before Carl Foster left the hosts crestfallen with an equaliser during the final five minutes of the first-half.
The Hurn Bridge outfit then took the lead through James Burden on the hour but found themselves down to 10 men when Smith was given his marching orders.
Recently-signed winger Dan Hiscock settled the nerves with number five as the undeterred visitors kept probing, but the pendulum swung once more when Sharp got one back with five minutes to play.
And Cuffie confessed his heart was in his mouth when a low centre flashed across the face of Max Frampton’s goal in the dying stages, only for Horndean duo Burney and Dan Hayes to get tangled as Priory held out for their third win in four league matches.
After the pulsating clash, Cuffie told the Daily Echo: “We were absolutely delighted with the result because we had five players out and our preparations had not been the best.
“We arrived a bit later than we would have liked and, to be honest, I would have taken a point before the game.
“But the team performance was brilliant and it was pleasing for me to see us stick with the really good football we have been playing recently.
“Going behind away from home with a few faces out, the lads could have let their heads go down, but they were a credit to themselves and the club because they kept playing and could have scored more goals.
On the comeback, Cuffie continued: “The timing of the goals was perfect. From 3-1 down we went into the break on level terms and the dressing room was buzzing.
“They (Horndean) must have been wondering what had happened and the way it panned out really helped us to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half. It might sound crazy to say after conceding four goals, but we defended really well once we went in front.”
Meanwhile, the Hurn Bridge chief, who has already strengthened his squad with the dual-registration of Wimborne defender Mark Jamison, seems set to add two further faces this week.
Goalkeeper Connor Sidley-Adams, who has represented England under-18s, and defensive midfielder Jordan Cotton, formerly with US Portsmouth’s reserve set up, should both be signed in time for Saturday’s FA Vase trip to Moneyfields.
Priory: Frampton, Steer, Cole (Fairbrother, 60), Walker, Jamison, Blackburn, Smith, Burden, Cullen, Foster, Hiscock. Unused subs: Jacobs, Landers.
Elsewhere, Hamworthy United’s winless league run was extended to seven matches with a 4-0 reverse at Bemerton Heath Harlequins.
In the Hampshire Senior Cup, Bournemouth Poppies cruised to a 3-0 win at Wessex One outfit Stockbridge. Connor Phillips (2) and Martin Warren got the goals.
Hammers: Knights, Saunders, Biles, Tayler (Horlock, 65), Legg, Stacey, Sturgess, Hester, Penny, Chudy (Claremont, 75), Pekun. Unused sub: Lanahan.
Poppies: Bray, Ayrton, Jackson, Burgis, Pearce, Saadi, Martinez (Cooper, 16), Hales (Turner, 88), Warren, Robinson, Phillips.
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