CHRIS Hicks was full of admiration for his players after this single-goal victory at Cranford Avenue.

The joint-manager questioned his side’s commitment a few weeks back but since then they have responded by registering successive victories and perhaps even more significantly, only their second clean sheet of the campaign.

Hicks told Echosport: “It was an excellent win and a good one for us. “It was tough at times, particularly towards the end, but the attitude and commitment we showed throughout was outstanding.

“Everyone was fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for anything more from them.

“You can tell people that hard work gets it rewards until you are blue in the face but hopefully the lads have now found that out for themselves and we can now try and push on.”

Sam Culpin grabbed the game’s only goal on the half-hour when he slammed the ball into the top corner following a swift counter-attacking move involving Ben Thomas and Mike Sonner.

Hicks went on to add: “They had quite a big lad up front and they tried to play off him with a bit of pace around him, so to keep the clean sheet was very pleasing indeed.

“For the first hour I always thought we were on top and we did have three or four other chances to kill the game off.

“Had we come in at half-time two or three up I think the game would have been done and dusted but the longer the lead stood at just one, the more Stourpaine pushed on looking for an equaliser.

“We stayed solid though and the commitment we showed to hang on at the end was fantastic.

“The way three or four of the lads threw their bodies in to block shots during a goalmouth scramble in the closing stages was excellent – they just refused to let the lead slip and at the final whistle I was really proud of them.”

The victory has taken Sports up to seventh in the Dorset Senior League table but they have played more games than the seven teams below them.

Sports: Parkes, Stroud, Windust, Bessant, Hicks, Green, W Sonner, Culpin, Austin, Thomas, M Sonner. Subs not used: Turner, Faulkner.