UNITED boss Stuart Heath hailed his side’s character as they dug in to claim all three points at Parley Sports.

Richard Marshallsay and substitute Adam Linaker were the men that found the net for Portland but the real key to victory was a solid defensive display.

Parley put the Blues under the cosh on occasions, particularly at the start of the second half, but they never buckled, restricting the hosts to very few chances.

Heath said: “Sometimes you have to dig in and grind out a result and that is exactly what we did.

“We got the result through sheer guts and determination.

“Everyone did their jobs defensively, not just the back four and the keeper, but the whole team and it was just an outstanding all-round team effort really.

“I am just delighted for the players because they have not always got the just rewards they have deserved this season but against Parley they did.”

Due to unavailabilities throughout the club, the Blues only had two substitutes and for the last 15 minutes they had to play with 10 men after Marshallsay trapped a nerve in a shoulder.

Heath added: “We had just brought on our second substitute and Richie got injured after a heavy fall. But the boys remained solid and showed tremendous character and fitness levels to not concede and see the job through.

“No one epitomised that more than Joe Charles who for the last 15 minutes was playing with a really sore foot. For him to stay on and battle through the pain like he did told me a lot about what sort of character he is.”

Marshallsay put United ahead when he made a trademark run from the halfway line and applied a cool finish after beating the offside trap.

Nick Etherington also went close in the first half when he produced a remarkable lob only to see it cannon back off the crossbar.

Parley applied huge pressure on to the Portland defence at the start of the second half but visiting keeper Wayne Gifford was rarely tested and with 20 minutes remaining the Blues doubled their lead when Linaker fired home from close range after linking up well with Marshallsay.

Back came Sports again but United’s rearguard held firm even when they went a man down in the closing stages.

Blues: Gifford, Wells, Charles, Carter, Cranny, Pattison, Miles, Churchill, Godfrey (Sibley 74), Marshallsay, Etherington (Linaker 60).