Alan Dowson was forced to defend the break-up of his record-setting backline after Ks limped out of the FA Cup on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat at Margate.

Matt Drage and Marcus Moodie were consigned to the bench at Hartsdown Park following unconvincing midweek displays.

If they felt aggrieved at their punishment, they deserved to be, after contributing to a superb run of clean-sheets in the club’s impressive start to the league season.

Their replacements struggled to shut out the Gate, with James Aldred ponderous at left-back and Matt Somner, a midfielder out of position, regularly given the runaround by former Ks striker Paul Vines.

“We started off well this season, being solid at the back. But the two centre-halves have been poor the last couple of games, whatever the combination,” said Dowson of the changes.

“Hopefully Max Hustwick can come in next week.

“Drage needed calming down a bit. We’ll see who comes and who doesn’t come to training on Monday and decide from there. But Max should be fit so we’ll have a bit of pace there, which we’ve been lacking.”

It’s been 12 years since Kingstonian made the first round proper and the club’s dismal 21st century in the competition continues.

“Finance comes into it. There was money on the game,” said a disappointed Dowson.

“You work your knackers off all week to bring money in to pay the players, to pay me. Some of those players are on good money. The league’s for the club, the FA Cup’s for the directors because it brings money in."

First round qualifying is indeed worth thousands in prize money, and even more in prestige.

For 30 minutes it looked like K’s would begin by cruising on to the road to Wembley.

Andre McCollin scored his ninth goal of the season, racing through before drilling the ball low past Craig Holloway.

His strike-partner Ryan Moss failed to convert two presentable chances and Matt Pattison was crunched in the box when set to shoot.

But suddenly those familiar defensive lapses began. Margate's Phil Walsh had an age in which to set himself up for a curled equaliser before half-time.

Then Charles Ademeno made it 2-1 on the hour as K’s looked increasingly frayed.

Cue Ali Chabaan’s entrance from the bench. Extravagantly talented he may be, but Chabaan’s career remains littered with hot-headed mistakes.

Just two minutes into his appearance, he seemed to head-butt a Margate player and received a straight red.

It got worse. As he left the pitch, he goaded the home fans with a single-digit wave.

“I didn’t see it, but if he’s put his head in there, then he’ll be sent off,” bristled Dowson.

“I brought him on to change the game. You trust players and then that happens. I can’t let it happen. We’ll deal with it behind closed doors.”

K’s face Hendon away in the league next Saturday.