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Gritty and determined Town survive late onslaught to pick up statement win over play-off chasing Totton

Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson feels his side have set a new standard for themselves following their statement 2-1 win over play-off chasing Totton on Saturday.

Goals from in-form wingers Adulai Sambu and Elis Watts – who has committed his future to the club after signing a new contract – either side of half time fired the Crusaders into a two-goal lead in Southampton.

The visitors had to hold on for the final 11 minutes of normal time as well as another seven added after veteran frontman Scott Rendell reduced the deficit with a diving header.

In-form winger Elis Watts, who was on target again at the weekend, has committed his future to the Crusaders
In-form winger Elis Watts, who was on target again at the weekend, has committed his future to the Crusaders

Town survived a couple of late scares. Leon Maloney, who won promotion to the Eredivisie last season with Dutch side Jong FC Volendam, blasted over following a frenetic scramble in the area in the 95th minute while veteran goalkeeper Ryan Clarke produced a spectacular save to tip an effort onto the crossbar.

“It was a gritty and determined performance,” Robinson said.

“We were the better side in the first half. After we got the second goal, Totton battered us a bit but we defended manfully.

“It was probably one of my favourite performances on the road for a long, long time.”

Hungerford have made an unfortunate habit of forfeiting leads this season. Three weeks ago, Robinson’s side let a three-goal advantage slip against Sholing, while the Crusaders suffered late capitulations at home to Hayes and Yeading as well as Didcot.

Yet Town, who have established a settled back four for the first time since the start of the season, held firm for almost 20 minutes after Totton pulled one back, leaving Robinson delighted with his side’s defending.

He said: “The referee added on so much time I thought I was going to miss my Sunday dinner!

“We talk a lot about our attackers and the quality we have in those areas, but our defenders – and Jack Alexander in front of them – were superb. Ryan Clarke made a tremendous save at the end when he was called upon.”

Hungerford, who found things tough on the road last season, endured similar struggles on their travels this term in the first couple of months, picking up just three points from the first 18 available. Yet since their FA Cup win over rivals Chippenham, Town have won four from seven away from Bulpit Lane.

“I think having a more settled side helps,” Robinson said.

“We had a lot of changes over the summer and in the first few weeks of the season, but I’ve always been confident we’d come good once things started to click.

“We’ve always had goals in us. It’s not rocket science, we’ve just needed to keep it tight. This is the first time all season I’ve allowed myself a look at the table – and we’re in a decent position.”

The Crusaders, who are unbeaten at Bulpit Lane, can now look forward to five successive home games, beginning with the visit of 15th-placed Hanwell Town this weekend.

Robinson said: “We’re looking forward to being back at home, it feels like we’ve been away a lot.

“Bulpit Lane has been a fortress, teams don’t relish coming to our ground, so we’re hoping we can maintain our good form.”

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