DELIGHTED boss Ken Vaughan praised Poppies’ spirited performance as they overcame an early setback to claim victory over fellow strugglers Totton & Eling.

Luke Ingram’s 67th-minute header proved decisive as Poppies secured back-to-back home wins to open up a seven-point gap over the Wessex League Premier Division trapdoor.

Vaughan told the Daily Echo: “I was very happy, it was a good three points and we definitely needed them.

“I thought the players’ performance was great and they toughed it out in conditions that were not the best to play in.”

Poppies fell behind after 10 minutes when Will Robinson was adjudged to have handled by referee Graham Matthews and Dougie Rowe stroked the visitors ahead from the penalty spot.

But Robinson, who showed great urgency throughout the contest, soon redeemed himself.

Midway through the opening period, his fierce strike whistled past sprawling Millers keeper Kevin O’Rourke to ensure Poppies were level pegging at the break.

Ingram, who was thrust into a more advanced role in the second half, then rose above his man to secure a crucial 2-1 success.

Vaughan added: “I never thought we were out of it at all, I thought the penalty decision was harsh but even then I didn’t feel as if we were being threatened.

“We had lots of chances and did not convert them but we ground it out.

“I think once we get the bit between our teeth and get back to scoring a few more goals, we will be okay.”

The result sets up the chance for Poppies to increase to 10 points their cushion over the relegation places as they make the trip to second-bottom Fawley in six days’ time.

“Next week is absolutely massive but even if we take three points from it we will still have huge games in front of us,” said Vaughan.

“There is still got a long way to go. In the past four or five games we have been playing much better and if we just keep pushing on we will be alright. Having said that, we are not out of the woods yet.”

Meanwhile, Vaughan was “hopeful” top scorer Martin Warren would recover from a groin strain in time for the Fawley clash.

Poppies: Vaughan, Martinez, Jackson, Costello, Burgis, Richardson (Hales, 85), Ingram, Ward, Warren (Saadi, 63), Owens, Robinson. Unused sub: Watt.

The Linnets have this weekend confirmed the signing of Holt United goalkeeper Tom Rees and Christchurch's Jordan Frewin.