Just as Kingstonian looked set for a superb away win at big-spending Whitehawk last night, repeated floodlight failure led to the match being abandoned with only 14 minutes remaining.
The victory would have lifted Ks to second in the Ryman Premier table – one place above the controversial Sussex side – but in the end the 80 away fans who made the trip to Brighton marina left without a result to celebrate.
Manager Alan Dowson remains in the dark about what will happen to the points at stake after watching a likely 2-0 win snatched away.
“It can’t be that we have to replay the whole game,” he said afterwards.
“I expect the Ryman League to do the right thing.”
A Ryman League committee is expected to convene this month.
It has the discretion to ask the sides to play out the last 14 minutes of the match, but appeals are likely to made over the cost and fairness of even a partial replay.
Brighton’s reputation as a town of dark play beneath bright seaside lights has more to do with its old gangs, music scene and suicide spots than football.
But in extraordinary, compelling scenes at The Enclosed Ground, the lights first went out in the 20th minute, plunging the tiny stadium into gloomy shadow, the distant sea invisible on an exceptionally dark night.
A call to an electrician meant the match continued after a 30-minute delay but deep into the second half, once Ks had gone two goals in front, two of four lights on each pylon failed again.
As the clock ticked towards 10.30pm, and with the electrician apparently long gone, the referee decided enough was enough and the teams left the field. Ks right-back Aaron Goode declared himself “fuming” on Twitter.
Striker Andre McCollin shook his head in polite disbelief as he walked down the tunnel.
He had more reason than anyone for frustration; it was his clinical first-half finish that had put Ks in front. Set through one on one, he deftly struck the ball past the advancing Chris Winterton for his 10th goal of the season.
The ever graceful Matt Pattison made it two just after the break.
His initial free-kick struck the Whitehawk wall before he volleyed the rebounding ball into the net from 20 yards, with the help of a slight deflection.
Whitehawk, despite attracting crowds of less than 100, are investing heavily in a promotion push, and were unluckly not to pull at least one goal back.
Only the brilliant goalkeeping of Rob Tolfrey denied them.
On three occasions he bested the Sussex side’s attack with fine saves, the pick of them a one-handed dive to claw out a Sam Gargan header.
The goals and the defensive effort may not count for anything if a replay is ordered.
Nevertheless, Ks’ bright performance will have restored confidence after the defeat to Wingate & Finchley last weekend.
This Saturday Dowson’s men host Brentwood Town in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy.
A win against Ryman One North opponents would not only bring £4,000 in prize money but also a place in the First Round proper and the chance to play a Blue Square Premier team.