CARETAKER boss Steve Johnson presided over Hawks’ stunning Great Escape act and smiled: It was an exhilarating feeling.
A 3-2 win over 10-man Staines at Westleigh Park proved enough.
Centre-back Joe Dolan got the crucial strike deep into stoppage time.
Ollie Palmer and Scott Jones were also on the mark for Hawks.
‘When big Joe came up and scored the winner it was one of the most exhilarating feelings in my whole footballing life,’ said Johnson.
‘We kept knocking on the door but it looked like it was never going to happen.
‘But they are a great bunch of lads, honest individuals and kept believing.
‘We knew Maidenhead had got a late winner.
‘The script was written for big Joe to come up and poke the ball in.
‘Though we looked dead in the water we kept our belief.
‘We knew if we kept creating chances it would only be a matter of time.
‘I just didn’t think that we would have to wait until the 93rd minute.
‘They say fortune favours the brave and we got that lucky bounce and the big man was there to do the business.’
Though already safe, Staines showed they had no intentions of making life easy for the Hawks in their quest for safety.
Ali Chaaban gave them a 19th minute lead before Scott Jones headed home three minutes later.
But Kyle Vassell immediately restored the visitors’ lead.
Christian Nanetti then drilled his 29th minute penalty wide.
But Ollie Palmer sent the Hawks in level at the break.
With the scores level, Hawks were in grave danger of suffering the drop.
Staines were reduced to 10-men early in the second half with Jeffrey Imudia picking up a second yellow card, before the late, late drama.
‘It was an emotional roller-coaster,’ said Johnson.
‘Staying in Conference South means everything to this fantastic club and we have to make the most of moments like this.
‘The club deserves to be at this level and is ready to kick on to bigger and better things.’
Hawks: Thomas 7; Newton 8, Arthur 8, Hinshelwood 7 (Ryan 72mins – 7), Dolan 9, Pearce 8, Hutchinson 8, Ramsey 8 (Igoe 82mins – 7), Jones 8, Palmer 8, Nanetti 8.