Micky Stephens praised Sutton United’s resolve as they ended their winless league run thanks to an injury-time goal at Farnborough.
Substitute Nick Bignall reacted quickest to a controversially swiftly-taken free kick to grab the all important winner and secure a 1-0 win, much to the fury of the home side.
Sutton, who were dumped out of the FA Cup by Ryman League Burgess Hill Town last week, controlled much of the game but could not breakthrough before the former Reading forward struck in the 92nd minute.
Assistant manager Stephens, speaking instead of manager Paul Doswell, said: “Last week was the lowest of low points and this is the complete opposite.
“Credit must go to the players to how they’ve reacted, but the manager deserves a lot of credit too. He’s dragged us through a difficult week, which was particularly hard for him too.”
Sutton came into the game without a win since September 13 in the Conference South.
After a tense first half, Sutton exerted more pressure on their opponents in the second, finding themselves on top but unable to breakthrough until Bignall’s introduction.
The substitute entered the game in the 75th minute and he latched on to the end of Glen Southam’s quick free kick to grab the three points.
Stephens added: “We’re pleased and hopefully this could be a turning point for our season. We need to use this to create some momentum.
“Sometimes you cannot always win by three or four goals, and you need to grind out results. We did that, no matter how late the winner came.”
In the Ryman Premier, Met Police are up to fifth following their 0-0 home draw with fourth-placed Dulwich Hamlet.
Goals from Nathaniel Pinney and Elvis Hammond were not enough for Kingstonian, blowing a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Billericay Town, with both sides having a player sent off.
Hampton & Richmond Borough had a less than enjoyable day on the coast, losing 3-0 to Bognor Regis Town as Jason Prior struck a hat-trick.
In the FA Trophy preliminary round, Walton and Hersham earned an away tie at Maidstone following a comprehensive 3-1 victory at Needham Market with Andrew Dalehouse making the tie safe three minutes from time.
Two sides require replays as Walton Casuals drew 0-0 against East Grinstead Town and Corinthian Casuals conceded late to draw 3-3, despite a 20-minute Jamie Byatt hat-trick.
Tooting & Mitcham are out of the competition, losing 2-1 at home to Aylesbury FC, as are Carshalton Athletic, who were beaten 4-1 by Three Bridges.
In the Combined Counties, Raynes Park Vale lost 3-0 at Camberley Town, while Colliers Wood United could not find their first away win of the season, losing 1-0 at Mole Valley SCR.
Feature image of Micky Stephens, taken by Steven Prince