Midfielder Daniel Sweeney scored a redemptive late winner on Sunday to lift Kingstonian joint top of the Ryman Premier League with a 2-1 win over Dulwich Hamlet.
The derby triumph was immediately hailed 'the best result of the season' by assistant coach Martin Tyler as 10-man Ks produced a comeback surge in front of a crowd of 591, the highest league gate at Kingsmeadow in over three years.
Two weeks ago, 19-year-old Sweeney had come off the bench, given the ball away and watched in horror as Harrow fashioned an undeserved equaliser to snatch a 2-2 draw.
But on Sunday his second-half impact brought three points in the most dramatic circumstances.
Sweeney collected a clearance and held off a determined challenge on the edge of the box before curling a perfect shot across keeper Yannik Nlat.
“It’s amazing and it’s great for Dan,” said Tyler.
“He was very hurt by what happened before [against Harrow], he took responsibility for it, and even before he scored, when he came on he did a terrific job.
“It was painful for him, he’s only a young man, and the lads were all just joking saying 'well, we’ve seen you smile now!' because he was heartbroken after Harrow, but now he’s the star of the show and won us the game.”
Hamlet had taken a first-half lead when unlucky Ks captain Sam Page turned a cross into his own net.
The away team’s possession play and mobile front three, including 5ft 2in playmaker Erhun Oztumer and former Ks winger Dean Lodge, forced manager Alan Dowson to adopt a five-man midfield.
The tactic worked and slowly the match turned, with Josh Casey and Tom Kavanagh grabbing hold of the middle of the park and new winger Ifeanyi Allen, signed on loan from Barnet, dribbling with pace and balance.
It was Allen who raced to the ball in the 34th minute just as Nlat clumsily clipped his ankles to concede a penalty.
Andre McCollin converted to leave scores level at half-time.
Ks then went on the offensive, Ryan Moss and Allen going close and McCollin, playing off the wing, driving centrally when the opportunity arose.
But Ks also endured torrid spells of Hamlet pressure until left-back Bruce Hogg, who had done well to contain the threat from Lodge, was forced into one foul too many and received a second yellow card.
Down to 10 men, most expected a nervy attempt to hold on to a point.
But Sweeney drove forward to seal a special K’s win. With 51 points by mid-January, this is a team still in title contention.
Dowson’s men play Ash United tonight in the Surrey Senior Cup third round before a visit to Carshalton next Saturday.