Andy Scott saw star striker Brett Williams turn from villain to hero to earn Aldershot Town a precious point – but then admitted he still wanted to throttle him.
The furious Shots boss said he came within a whisker of hauling off his top scorer at half time after a horrific defensive blunder led to goalkeeper Glenn Morris being sent off and Elliot Bradbrook giving Dartford the lead from the penalty spot.
But the 27-year-old atoned for his mistake in fine style two minutes from time with a thunderous 25-yard half-volley, which handed 10-man Shots an unlikely share of the spoils and a potential relegation lifeline.
At the time of Williams' fabulous strike, the Shots had slumped to third from bottom in the Skrill Premier table, a full four points from safety.
As it is now, they are now a place better off and still very much in the hunt ahead of another crunch six-pointer at home to Lincoln City on Saturday. Not that Scott was in the mood to celebrate.
“He [Williams] was lucky [to be] out there second half because I nearly strangled him at half time,” Scott joked.
“It's game management, it's a ridiculous decision. There's 20 seconds to go to half time but Brett for some reason has not taken on information given to him and I despair sometimes.
“I'm still not happy, I'm absolutely furious with him because although he's scored the goal, it's not acceptable, that's not the standards that we set and he's still let us down because we could have won that game.
“Then, what he did at the end there, no-one else in the league would be able to do that. An amazing strike, fantastic power, accuracy and technique.
“He's got himself, and everyone else, out of a hole but I'm still going to have to take a few moments before I see him again.”
After watching centre-back Joe Partington being stretchered off with a worrying knee injury inside the first five minutes, the 200 or so travelling fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worse as the Darts went in search of a fifth victory from six matches to leapfrog the Shots and indeed the dreaded bottom four.
Indeed, the home side enjoyed much the better of a tense opening period, but in the dying embers of first-half injury-time those fears were finally realised in a true moment of madness.
A free kick from the left fell to the feet of Williams 12 yards out, but instead of hacking the ball to safety, the Shots top scorer attempted to dribble the ball out of his own area and ride two Dartford challenges.
Naturally, his unlikely attempt failed, Mat Mitchel-King stole in and Alex Wall was upended by the unfortunate Morris in their quest to pounce on the loose ball.
Referee Amy Fearn had no hesitation but to brandish a red card to the Shots stopper and Bradbrook stepped up to rifle the resulting penalty past 17-year-old substitute keeper Luke Williams, who had come on for his league debut.
That incident aside, Dartford were good value for their half-time lead with burly striker Wall the most potent threat on the park, causing all manner of problems for the reshuffled Shots back line.
But despite the goal and their numerical disadvantage, determined Shots refused to lie down and encouraged by a pumped-up management team kicking every ball from the sidelines, they showed much more intensity after the break - albeit without really testing home keeper Alan Julian.
Instead, it was Dartford who looked more likely on the counter attack with Wall, twice, and Danny Harris going close, while Chris Barker's horribly sliced clearance whisked past his near post by a matter of inches.
Scott's response, however, was positive and the introduction of a third striker in Josh Scott inspired a resurgent final 15 minutes where the former Dagenham man flicked an effort narrowly over from Jaydon Gibbs' long throw and then tested Julian with a near-post strike.
But just when the final effort looked to be in vain, Williams struck in clinical fashion. A midfield battle on the right, involving Gibbs, saw the ball bounce directly into the path of the striker, who steadied himself before firing a stunning low, curling shot beyond an out-stretched Julian and into the far corner of the net to the delight of the travelling supporters.
“It was a huge relief, we certainly like doing things the hard way,” a drained Scott added afterwards.
“The goal was huge. You could feel the lift it gave the whole dressing room. That felt like a win to us - it was just as important.”
Aldershot: Morris, Gibbs, Oastler, Partington (Tonkin 7, Scott 82), Barker, Roberts, Stanley, Taiwo, Plummer (L Williams 45), B Williams, Bubb. Subs: Mekki, Rowlands.
Ref: Amy Fearn. Att: 1,125.