Going down to Margate was unthinkable for Kingstonian’s play-off hopes on Saturday and Alan Dowson’s side duly recorded a crucial 2-1 victory at Hartsdown Park their first away win since mid-January.
Even a draw would have been damaging, given their rivals’ results, as K’s assistant manager Gary Abbott admitted afterwards.
“It was a must-win,” he said.
“We didn’t say that to the players beforehand but I think they knew that anyway.”
For a side all at sea following four league defeats in five, manager Alan Dowson has landed two new signings who immediately made a difference.
Daniel Pappoe, a Ghana youth international on loan from Chelsea, anchored the central midfield while Andre Da Costa, formerly a professional in Malta and Cyprus, proved a constant threat on the right-wing.
But Abbott, a non-league striking legend in his own right, singled out Ryan Moss for his contribution upfront.
Moss selflessly set up the winner and worked tirelessly at the top of a 4-5-1 formation.
“We decided to go 4-5-1, or 4-3-3 if you like,” said Abbott.
“As a lone striker, it’s so hard. I’ve done that job myself.
"You’ve just got to keep going, don’t go to wide, stay central, win your headers and get people around you. And Moss was brilliant at that.”
Ks had to come from behind against a Gate team managed by former AFC Wimbledon chief Terry Brown after Sam Rents curled a precise free-kick into the bottom corner in the 15th minute.
If Margate had held on to that lead until the break, K’s sagging confidence might have told, but Daniel Sweeney made it 1-1 with a fortuitous headed goal.
The midfielder met a Da Costa cross by directing the ball into the ground from 12 yards out.
One high bounce on the six-yard line seemed to bamboozle keeper Nikki Bull who barely moved as the ball flew into the net.
The second period was dominated by Ks five-man midfield before Gate centre-back Charlie Wassmer passed straight to Moss on the edge of the box.
He had the presence of mind to square it to substitute Andre McCollin, who tapped in from two yards out.
McCollin then got himself a straight red card with 10 minutes remaining after a lunging tackle on Margate’s left-back, but Ks held on for a result that keeps the club level on 61 points with Bognor and Hornchurch.
Ks play fifth-placed Hornchurch at Kingsmeadow next Saturday.