Sittingbourne showed the character needed for a title fight in their comeback victory against Phoenix Sports.
Goals from Donvieve Jones and Bagasan Graham in the final 20 minutes on Saturday saw the Brickies overturn a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1.
Victory, having trailed to an early second-half penalty, kept them third in Isthmian South East and showed boss Ryan Maxwell his players have what it takes to challenge.
Struggling Phoenix have had a tough spell, including a 9-1 defeat at leaders Ramsgate a fortnight ago.
But they were stubborn opponents and Sittingbourne had to work hard for the points.
“We had to show character,” said Maxwell.
“It was a test and I’m glad we came through it because it won’t be the last time we have to do that.
“It shouldn’t have had to happen - we should have come in leading at half-time and it was our error for their goal - but it did.
“If we’re really going to be title contenders we must learn from that and, luckily, we showed the character and the grit and the desire needed.
“If you don’t have that, you won’t get a promotion. You must have that about you.
“You’ve got to keep going and keep pushing and turn these scenarios into a positive.
“It may seem like a negative when you’re losing but you’ve got to turn into a positive and all that mattered was three points.
“We’re three points off the top. I know we’ve played a couple of games more but we’ve got points in the bag.”
The performance of 17-year-old new boy Dan Getnanski was a major plus.
Maxwell handed the teenager - a dual-registration signing from Romford - a debut in defence and he didn’t disappoint.
“I thought he did extremely well until he got injured,” said the Brickies boss.
“He didn’t put a foot wrong.
“He didn’t know anybody, he was a late inclusion, but it was a tremendous debut and I’m really pleased with him.
“I’d seen him play at Step 5 and he’d looked a good, accomplished defender.
“I think he’s got a good future. He plays in a back three at Romford and he’s an out-and-out defender.
“He’s a good size, 6ft2in, and he’s like a throwback in terms of his personality. He’s not easily put off, or shy. I like him. He’s a mature young man.”
The Phoenix experience was the latest lesson for Sittingbourne following their 1-0 midweek defeat by Hythe - a result that ended their 11-match unbeaten run.
Bourne played 32 minutes against 10 men following Johan Caney-Bryan’s dismissal but lost their way and conceded the only goal in added time.
“When they had a man sent off, we got a bit carried away,” said Maxwell. “We wanted to go forward at every opportunity and started doing things we don’t usually do.
“We lacked a bit of game management and a bit of excitement went through the team, pushing for a goal instead of being patient with the extra man.
“That’s something we took from the game and we had a long debrief afterwards.
“You must make sure you make your extra man count and the only way to do that is to move the ball.
“You’re not going to do it by playing 50:50 balls - that’s what the other team want you to do.
“You have to move them around, and we didn’t do that, and we ended up getting caught cold from a set-piece that we shouldn’t have conceded.
“It was a harsh one but if we’re in that situation again we’ll handle it much better.
“We’re learning as we go but we’ve got to learn very quickly and not get caught out too much while we’re learning.
“We must make sure if it happens again that we win the game.”
Sittingbourne go to Littlehampton on Saturday (3pm) and visit East Grinstead on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Last night’s Kent Senior Cup tie at Hythe was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.