DOMINIC Sterling fired the Shots back to the top of the Ryman League premier division with his first ever goal for the club to settle this entertaining and hard-fought clash.

Sterling capped another man-of-the-match performance with a powerful 84th minute header from Martin Kuhl's brave flick-on, as the Shots sent title rivals Kingstonian spinning to their third defeat of the season.

Former Hayes centre back Sterling has got better with every game since his summer switch and was fully deserved of the goal which followed Lee Charles' sublime first half effort and a equaliser from Tim Sills.

The subsequent three points not only catapulted the Shots over Purfleet and St Albans to the top of the table, but also earned praise from delighted boss Terry Brown, who saw his men show great resolve and character just when they needed it.

Brown said: "This was a very good win against a very good side. Kingstonian are a very useful outfit who will take a lot of points off teams this year and I'm chuffed to bits we've come away from here with all three points.

"We started off very brightly and the midfield were running the game until Dwayne Lee went off injured and that disrupted us a bit.

"But Martin Kuhl cancelled his dinner to start as sub for us, he ended up playing 75 minutes or so and made the winning goal for us.

"Central midfield is a difficult position to cover but he worked as hard as he possibly could for us. He's brave, he's strong and he knows what runs to make, and I was really pleased for the big fellow tonight. He got his head to the corner where nobody else would have put it and Dominic put his head where angels fear to tread and we got what, I thought, was a close but deserved win."

Unfortunately though, Brown doesn't get much opportunity to enjoy victories much these days, with the worry of injuries constantly looming over him.

Just when it looked as though the injury situation was healing, on-loan midfielder Lee hobbled off with ankle ligament trouble, which could now bring a premature end to his days at Aldershot.

He was then followed back in the dressing room by goalkeeper Nikki Bull, who was left holding his hip after a second half challenge with Sills.

Bull, who has only recently returned from a slight knock and a period of suspension, was replaced by stand-in Richard Hurst, who may now start the big FA Trophy game with Worcester City on Saturday if Bull's injury turns out as bad as originally feared.

Paul Moody's flu bug failed to clear, and with Lee Holsgrove out suspended, Brown's options were limited, especially with Nick Roddis still struggling to shake off his recent injury and Dean Hooper awaiting a scan on his ankle.

But once again, the troops he sent out, never let him down.

Indeed his side could, and should, have been 1-0 up after just 25 seconds when Jason Chewins fed Roscoe D'sane, who, with the goal at his mercy 12 yards out, somehow managed to scuff his shot wide.

But after K's threatened on a couple of occasions to level out the opening exchanges, Charles made sure the Shots weren't to be denied. Richard Gell's burst into the box ended with his shot ricocheting heavily off Matt Flitter and looping towards the fit-again striker.

With D'sane and an advancing Gell in the box, the K's defenders expected him to loft a high ball into the danger area, but in one quick-thinking motion, Charles executed a superb first-time side-foot effort on the volley, which looped over Lance Key and into the far corner.

This would have knocked the stuffing out of most teams - but not one with the calibre of Kingstonian. The visitors forced the Shots into several errors as the half progressed and that contributed to Bull having to save well from Bashiru Alimi and Sills, while Peter Barnsby sent the first of three clear headers on the night, over the bar.

But the pressure had to pay off, and with 72 minutes on the clock, the Shots finally buckled.

Ex-Woking man Scott Steele, so often a thorn in Aldershot's side, floated over an inch-perfect free-kick from deep and Sills - the former Camberley Town striker - was allowed to rise highest and pick his spot from 10 yards into the far corner of the net past the bemused replacement keeper Hurst.

From that moment, only one team looked like winning it, and it wasn't Aldershot!

Hurst did extremely well to deny Sills a second from close range, while Barnsby continued to try and fail from his set-piece opportunities.

The Shots, at the other end, pressed with vigour, but found the K's back three of Flitter, Barnsby and Sills' brother Julian, hard to beat — putting a foot or a body in front of everything, thus well-protecting keeper Key.

Roddis got stronger with every minute, Paul Buckle popped up everywhere, while Chewins proved a constant threat with quiet forays down the blind side on the left flank.

But with six minutes to play, the character of Brown's side finally paid off when D'sane found a way through.

Winning a corner on the left hand side, D'sane, whose deliveries from set-pieces had been off-target all night, swung the ball over to the near post, finding reserve team coach Kuhl.

The veteran utility man managed to get a head in front of his several markers, leaving Sterling to bundle the ball home, thus putting the seal on three vital points.

SHOTS: Bull (sub Hurst 68mins); Gell, Chewins, Cousins, Sterling, A Charles, Roddis, Lee (Kuhl 13), L Charles (Taylor 78), D'sane, Buckle. Not used: Cooper, Harper.

KINGSTONIAN: Key; J Sills, Alimi (sub Lampton 60mins), Rocastle, Flitter, Barnsby, Pinnock, Clarke, T Sills, Steele (M Jones 78), Wingfield. Not used: A Jones, Hustwick, Lewington.

Ref: G L Ward. Att: 1,956.