Something had to give as two of the four National League South sides without a victory this season met at Margateâ€™s Hartsdown Road home on Saturday and it was St Albans City, through Louie Theophanousâ€™ second half strike, who head into autumn with renewed optimism on the back of a 1-0 win.
Louie Theophanous scores the winner for Saints.
The game was tight throughout with Margate enjoying the greater share of the possession, while St Albans had more strikes on goal.
Margate were one of the pre-season title favourites but courtesy of this defeat slip into the bottom three and could be in for a few more uncomfortable weeks before things get better on this evidence.
Terry Brownâ€™s side are woefully short on confidence and this was most obvious close to goal where a lack of assurance saw several good chances go to waste.
And the Gateâ€™s prospects were hardly enhanced by far too many wayward long balls from the back that left striker Freddie Ladapo chasing hopeless causes.
Even so, Ladapo did not help his cause when squandering three good openings that came his way.
As for City, news that six players were now on the injury list hardly encouraged thoughts of a first win of the season.
But, somehow, a patched up XI gave a solid team performance and achieved their success on the back of an outstanding work-rate.
Luke Allen and Scott Thomas both suffered setbacks during the week and were unable to return to action while John Kyriacou, with suspected broken ribs, joined Sam Corcoran, Steve Wales and Danny Green on the sick list.
City had a new face in the pack with on-loan striker Ade Yusuff joining Theophanous in attack. Yusuff joins the Saints on a one-month loan from Dagenham & Redbridge but will be remembered by City supporters for a spectacular goal he scored against them whilst with St Neots Town in 2012.
David Longe-King stood in at right-back for his first league start and did an outstanding job on keeping the former AFC Wimbledon and Grimsby Town winger Christian Jolley quiet With Longe-King in the back four, James Comley was able to continue his run in midfield and the England C international was on his best form, as manager James Gray said after the game, â€˜he ran the show.â€™ The match got off to an explosive start as a David Hunt throw on the Gate left, deep inside the City half, was flicked on by Brett Johnson.
Joe Welch dived to push the ball away but put it straight to Ladapo who, from just a couple of yards out, stretched to strike a left-footed poke into the face of Lee Chappell, as the defender stood in front of him right on the goalline.
Chappell later admitted that had the shot been placed either side of him rather than straight into his face, then City would have been a goal down with barely 30 seconds on the clock.
The early pace of the game suggested that a goal would not be far away but two sides that had both failed to score in four of their opening seven fixtures made hard work of locating the target.
Gus Sow has brought new vitality to the City midfield and had another excellent 90 minutes that was only slightly blotted by an early first half caution.
Margate went into the game having scored once in 452 minutes and when Ladapo wasted a free header from a Solomon Taiwo free kick then it was clear that they were unlikely to improve upon that record anytime soon.
For a while midway through the half Margate pushed City deep with a series of good crosses but the Kent club were also grateful for a goalline clearance by Glenn Wilson after Ian Gayle beat Gate keeper Nikki Bull in a challenge for a Chappell throw.
Gayle was in resolute form in the middle of the City defence and the one time that Ladapo got the better of the central defender he shot weakly at the grateful Welch.
Next to squander a good opportunity for the hosts was Jolley who completely missed a header as Taiwo floated a free kick to the back post, moments later David Hunt did test the City keeper with a low effort from 30 yards.
As Margateâ€™s pressure began to wane City countered with a flighted ball by Lewis Hilliard clipping the head of Jake Goodman and falling into the path of the advancing Chappell whose crisp half volley was blocked by the sprawling Bull.
Late in the half a promising Margate attack was snuffed out by a thunderous tackle from Longe-King on Jolley; a split second either way and Longe-King would have been walking on very thin ice, instead, it was perfection.
After a lengthy run Yusuff fired wide for City while a clever flick by Gate forward Danny Green went just past the City goal.
Seven minutes after the restart City made the breakthrough with a classic route-one goal on an excellent playing surface.
Margate defender Wilson headed the ball into the middle of the City half where Ben Martin launched a long clearance that was missed by Gate defender Jake Goodman.
Simon Thomas, on for the still struggling Hilliard, latched onto the ball, with his second touch feeding Theophanous.
The Saints leading goalscorer this season sailed past Goodman and dragged the ball away from Sam Rents before blasting a left-footed shot high into the roof of Bullâ€™s goal.
The goal was Cityâ€™s 100th away league goal during the reign of joint-managers Graham Golds and Jimmy Gray.
Yusuff went close to increasing Cityâ€™s lead with a scuffed effort wide and then a free kick that fizzed just over the crossbar.
A good chance went begging for an increasingly flustered Margate side when a superb long angled cross by Kane Wills was headed meekly to Welch by Ladapo.
Wills also sent Ladapo away with a fine threaded through ball but the striker and his attacking colleague Green were both reluctant to shoot and Sow was able to get the ball away for a corner.
Both sides had chances during the closing stages with Jolley stretching to reach a cross by Green but was unable to keep his shot down.
Theophanous is a predator of some force and after collecting a knock on by Thomas bustled his way into the penalty area but slid his shot narrowly wide.
Margate attempts to build moves in the latter stages were continually frustrated by Cityâ€™s ceaseless work-rate that allowed the home side no space in which to manoeuvre.
The win, in Cityâ€™s 300th National League (Conference) South fixture, lifts the club out of the relegation places, and with the next three games being against other lowly sides St Albans will be aiming to move into less dangerous waters over the next couple of weeks.