Two late goals from substitute Wade Small rescued Kingstonian from a second home cup defeat in a fortnight.
Ks have not reached the first round proper of the FA Trophy since 2005 and have suffered enough first qualifying round defeats for fans to have been wary of the visit of Ryman One South’s Eastbourne Town on Sunday.
When an unfortunate Kieran Murphy saw the ball ricochet off the post against his body and into the net for an own goal just after half-time, it seemed like the same old knock-out story was unfolding.
But manager Alan Dowson made three changes that turned the match and put his team in the draw for the second qualifying round today.
The £2,500 prize money will come in handy too.
"I’m pleased for the chairman and directors who have been a massive support all week,’ said Dowson, who has admitted the FA Cup defeat to East Thurrock United was a damaging blow.
"Games like this, when you get a bit of money in the bank, you’re pleased for them because it might take a bit of the strain off them and help us attract one or two newer players."
Captain Gary MacDonald accepted Ks had ‘made it hard for ourselves’ in the 2-1 victory, but is relishing the chance of a run in a competition he won with Ebbsfleet United in 2008 after suffering defeat in the 2006 final at Upton Park playing for Woking.
"When we lost to Grays they were Conference South, so there’s no reason a club from below the Blue Square Premier can’t go far," said MacDonald.
Ryman Premier Wealdstone reached the semi-final last year and Carshalton enjoyed a money-spinning trip to Lincoln in the second round.
There are two more qualifying rounds before Ks can start sizing up major clubs in the first round, but the intervention of former Sheffield Wednesday striker Small has kept up hopes of a return to the Trophy successes of 1999 and 2000.
Small has looked exceptional since signing in the summer, though the injuries that curtailed his league career have also affected him in the semi-professional game.
"Wade came on and did great and he should be knocking on the door now [for a starting place],’ said Dowson.
"He hasn’t been fit. If I’d played him from the start we might have had one or two more because we’ve had some good chances today."
His first in the 76th minute was a low drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
ix minutes later he tapped in the winner after a fine pass from Simon Huckle put Dean Lodge clear, whose shot was parried by the keeper into Small’s path.
But some familiar defensive lapses could have cost Ks dear.
Only a minute before Small’s equaliser, Eastbourne’s Danny Card missed a free header to put them two-up and Rob Tolfrey made a brilliant diving save with 10 minutes remaining to deny Town again.