Ryman League Division One South table-toppers Maidstone United were beaten 1-0 on Boxing Day – their first league defeat since August.
Hosts Ramsgate thought their chance had gone when, after a discussion, the referee overruled his assistant’s signal for a penalty after Ian Pulman had gone down in the box.
But 2 minutes into added time, Pulman was felled again and this time there was no debate. The culprit, Tommy Osborne, was given his marching orders and Warren Schulz duly claimed the game’s only goal from the penalty spot.
The result brought a change at the top. Dulwich Hamlet took over, thanks to a 1-0 win at Chipstead where in-form youngster Danny Carr scored the decisive goal soon after the interval.
Maidstone still have a game in hand on Dulwich, and two on Hythe Town, who drew level with them on points after coming from behind to beat visitors Folkestone Invicta 2-1 in front of a four-figure crowd.
Josh Vincent gave Folkestone a half-time lead. The equaliser came on the hour-mark, predictably from Dave Cook – his sixteenth league goal of the season.
Perhaps even more predictably, it was James Everitt who claimed the 72nd minute winner against the club he served for nine years before joining Hythe last month.
Faversham Town held on to fourth place with a 1-1 draw at Sittingbourne.
Joe Taylor put the Brickies ahead on the half-hour and Adrian Stone replied for the visitors, also in the 72nd minute.
The dropped points cost Sittingbourne their place in the top five. They were overtaken by Crawley Down Gatwick, who beat Three Bridges 3-1.
Fraser Logan scored the only goal of the first half and Hassan Nyang replied for Bridges in the 57th minute. Ross Morley quickly restored the Anvils’ lead and Jamie Cade made sure.
Bridges are now just one goal better off than bottom club Walton Casuals, who have two games in hand after their derby at Walton & Hersham was the only game in the division to fall victim to a waterlogged pitch.
Leatherhead are seventh and within a point of a play-off spot after their 2-0 win at Corinthian-Casuals.
Tom Bradbrook made the breakthrough 2 minutes after the interval and Elliott Thompson added the second with 10 minutes left.
In this tight promotion battle, Burgess Hill Town would have been fourth had they won at Eastbourne Town, but lost 2-1 and dropped to eighth.
It was 1-1 after only 11 minutes, with John Lansdale’s opener for the hosts answered by Sam Tucknott. Ben Austin restored Eastbourne’s lead 5 minutes before half-time and that proved to be that.
Worthing went down 2-1 at home to Horsham. It was their seventh home defeat of the season yet, remarkably enough, they too would have been in the top five had the result been reversed.
Two goals in 7 second half minutes from Tony Nwachukwu and Matt Simpson did the trick for the Hornets, who were denied a clean sheet by Steve Metcalf’s last-minute reply.
The highest-scoring game in the division was at Tooting & Mitcham United, where Merstham came out on top 4-2.
Lee Newman put them ahead with a penalty, Tyrone Berry equalised and Luke I’Anson restored Merstham’s lead, all within the first 19 minutes.
Laurent Hamici made it 2-2 soon after half-time but Mark Nwokeji put Merstham ahead to stay in the 77th minute and Fabio Saraiva clinched it in added time.
An impressive crowd of 433 turned out at Whitstable Town to watch two sides in the bottom eight and those who stayed till the end saw 19-year-old Scott Heard net a last-gasp equaliser for the hosts.
Herne Bay had led from midway through the first half, when their own teenage forward, 18-year-old Tunji Abgajae, was on target.