Alton manager Kevin Adair was full of praise for his side after they won 2-1 at fourth-placed Jersey Bulls in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday.
Over the 90 minutes Alton were good value for the three points after a hard-fought win in the Channel Islands.
The visitors got off to a flyer and took the lead on eight minutes when Scott Sanderson was through on goal and confidently finished past the advancing Pierce Roche.
The home side reacted well and had two good chances to equalise. The first was defended for a corner and the second finished with the ball rolling wide of the far post.
Jamie Hoppitt thought he had extended Alton’s lead, but his driven effort from Sanderson’s knock down was acrobatically cleared off the line.
The second half was played in a similar manner, with both sides pushing where they could – but neither keeper was overly extended.
When the equaliser did come on the hour mark it was somewhat fortunate. Alex Merrifield’s clearance hit Lorne Bickley and fell perfectly into his path, and he calmly slid the ball home.
Neither side looked happy to accept a point, and both teams threw bodies forward at every opportunity to try to find a winner.
When Alton’s winner came with 15 minutes to go it was a fine close-range headed finish from an unlikely source.
A long throw into the penalty area was flicked on by a Jersey player to the edge of the six-yard box, where the arriving Jamie Phillips reacted quickest to send his diving header into the net.
The visitors saw the game out without too much incident to continue their fine run of form over the past two months and pick up their tenth victory from their past 12 matches.
The Brewers are fifth in the league table and occupy the final play-off spot, and Adair was delighted with his side’s display at Jersey.
“To go to one of the better sides in the division and deservedly win was tremendous,” said Adair.
“We were the better side in the first half.
“Jersey came out strongly after the break, but we got through that and deservedly won the game.
“It’s probably the biggest result in my time at the club.
“We’ve won ten of our past 12 games and the only defeat was against Farnham – who have won every league game they’ve played this season.
“Only Farnham are in better form than us over the past 12 games. We were a fair way off the play-offs and have had to put this run together to get ourselves in there.
“I know we’ve played more games than most teams – but we’ve got the points on the board.
“There’s probably 12 teams who think they can get in the top five this season, and that could still be the case when we get to February.
“We’re in the mix and are still in three cups – so we’re fighting on four fronts.
“It’s a great time for everyone involved with the club – the players, the coaches, the committee and the supporters.
“I don’t know if anyone was calling for my head in the difficult times, but hopefully everyone is enjoying this.
“We stayed over in Jersey on Saturday night and went for a meal together and it was great. Everyone was socialising together – there weren’t any cliques. It’s a great place to be at the moment.
“It’s not just the first team – the development team are also doing well.”
Next up for Alton is a home game against 16th-placed Guildford City in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday (3pm) at Anstey Park Enclosure.
The Brewers picked up an impressive 3-0 win at Guildford in the reverse league fixture earlier this season, and also won 3-2 at home to Guildford in the first round of the League Cup.
“We’ve never really put too much focus on the opposition – we concentrate on what we want to do,” said Adair.
“Given the run of form we’re on teams now might change what they do to try to stop us – if they do then it’s down to us to find a way through that.
“Previously teams maybe thought they could play their way against us and be just as good as us, if not better, but that might change now.”