Alton manager Kevin Adair hailed his side’s character after the Brewers earned a sensational 4-3 win at Tooting & Mitcham United in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday afternoon.
The Brewers trailed 3-0 with ten men – and were later reduced to nine men – but produced a stunning comeback to pick up the three points.
“Character, resilience, work rate, togetherness – you can use all of those words,” said Adair.
“I’m so proud of the players for what they did.
“They listened to the instructions and followed the game plan, and got what they deserved.
“To go down to ten men – and then nine men – and get the three points is truly outstanding.”
Goals from Warren Colman and Shay Brennan put the hosts 3-0 up, but Alton were awarded a lifeline on 44 minutes when Pat Cox was fouled in the box and Owen Lumsden scored the resulting penalty.
Adam New headed home from a corner on 55 minutes to make it 3-2, before Louis Russell stepped inside two defenders on to his left foot and shot home at the near post on 65 minutes to make it 3-3.
Alton were then reduced to nine men when Jamie Phillips was awarded a second yellow for kicking the ball away.
Incredibly, Alton scored a winner in the 83rd minute. Russell broke from just inside his own half, and with defenders backing off in fear of his ability to go past them he drove towards the box – giving Mohammed Regragui time to join him from the right.
Russell slipped Regragui in and from 15 yards he steered a shot into the far corner to the delight of the travelling supporters.
Tooting were now completely stunned and out of ideas, and their frustration was complete when Campbell dived in the box and was shown a second yellow card.
“The first goal just before half-time was absolutely vital for us,” said Adair.
“I knew what I was going to say to the players at half-time, but getting that goal gave me something to hang the message on and give the players something to believe in.
“If we were 3-0 down it might have been harder for the lads to believe what I was telling them.
“We were creating chances and knew we were in the game.
“Once we got the second goal you could feel the momentum shift completely towards us.
“We got it to 3-3 and then the sending off of Jamie is harsh in my opinion – he kicked the ball right as the whistle was blown, there wasn’t a delay.
“Louis was a constant threat with his pace and we fully deserved to get the winner.”
The victory means Alton have collected four points from their first four league games after testing games against AFC Croydon Athletic, Jersey Bulls, Farnham Town and Tooting & Mitcham – and Adair is happy enough with his side’s start to the season.
“We’ve played four teams who would expect to be in and around the top five at the end of the season,” said Adair.
“So four points from four games is a steady start – and we needed a steady start.
“We’ve won three cup games, but everyone looks at the league table – so getting that first league win was very important for us.”
The Brewers will travel to Cobham in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday (3pm), before hosting Aldershot Town in the Hampshire Senior Cup next Tuesday evening (September 12).
“Cobham have had a few decent results and we expect a tough game, but we will go there feeling positive about ourselves and looking to win the game,” said Adair.