A controversial second-half penalty proved enough to keep the Hawks Skrill South play-off ambitions bubbling with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Concord Rangers at Westleigh Park.
Nic Ciardini buried the 79th minute spot-kick to put the Hawks back in the driving seat as the play-off chase enters a thrilling finale.
Though the home side had Aristide Bassele sent off in stoppage-time for an off-the-ball incident they held on for a vital three points.
Lee Bradbury’s side are now two points behind fifth-placed Dover but have two games in hand.
The Hawks play the first of those games against Bishop’s Stortford tonight at Westleigh Park (7.45pm) – with Boreham Wood visiting the south coast 48 hours later.
Two more wins will see the Hawks open up a four-point gap – ahead of their closest rivals, with just over a week of the season remaining.
‘This was a massive three points,’ said Bradbury.
‘We had to work hard for them because Concord proved a big physical well-organised, hard-working outfit.
‘I felt we equalled them in that and it was always going to be a close game between two well-matched sides.
‘In the first half it looked like two teams out there who wanted to make sure they didn’t lose.
‘From our point of view it was important we picked something up so that we didn’t lose any more ground.
‘But we managed to win it with the referee rightly spotting a two-handed push on one of our players in the area.
‘Again we were great defensively when they threw everything at us towards the end.
‘We had to defend for our lives remaining switched on, energetic and prepared to put bodies on the line.
‘The whole team did that and didn’t allow Concord to bully them.’
Chances were few and far between for both teams in a cagey opening 45 minutes though a lot of good passing football was on show.
The best of the Hawks chances fell to Bassele but twice he blazed wide from good positions.
The decisive moment arrived 11 minutes from the end after the Hawks were awarded a free-kick midway inside the Concord half.
When the ball was lifted into the Concord area the referee blew for a foul with most in the ground expecting a free-kick for the visitors.
It took a while before it dawned on everyone referee Derek Eaton had in fact awarded the Hawks a penalty.
Concord were furious but cool customer Ciardini then gave keeper Jamie Butler little chance with a perfect penalty into the bottom corner.
Emotions ran high after that with visiting manager Danny Cowley dismissed from the dug-out.
And Bassele receiving a red card for allegedly stamping on an opponent.
‘The next few days are huge for us,’ said Bradbury.
‘The most important thing is that we keep grinding out performances and picking up points.
‘We have more points to play for than Dover and Concord and must exploit that.’
Hawks: Buchel, Strugnell, Blanchett, Ryan, Harris, Woodford, Ciardini (Nanetti 83), Atangana, Oli, Kabba (Donnelly 89), Bassele.