Kingstonian may have lost again on Saturday – extending the winless league run to 13 matches since 12 January – but a gusty display at Margate was met with appreciative applause from the travelling fans.

“We were looking to improve week on week and we did that,” said caretaker manager Kim Harris after overseeing the narrow 1-0 defeat.

“At Lewes, we had only just come in and it was difficult. Then at Met Police, we had to play a lot of young boys, who did really well in patches. And now we look a lot better at the back and should have got a draw, in my opinion.”

With the teams below still stumbling, and just five games remaining, any lingering fears of relegation would be diminished by at least a point at home to Enfield on Saturday.

“I think a point would be good and a win would be perfect,” Harris added. “Since I came in, there’s been no time to worry about the league table. We’re trying to stabilise things first and foremost. For me the most important thing is to make the players feel wanted, not to publicly chastise them. I’m a people person, I’ve always been able to get the best out of people.”

New signing Mike Dixon, brought in from Carshalton before the transfer deadline, ran hard upfront in a 4-5-1, while AFC Wimbledon loanee Alfie Egan added quality in midfield. Indeed, for the opening 15 minutes of the game, K's looked the likelier scorers, working the ball well and winning corners.

It was against the run of play that the Gate took the lead on 19 minutes, Noel Leighton tapping in when goalkeeper Rob Tolfrey could only palm a low cross into the striker’s path. Margate have been on a fine run of form under new manager Jay Saunders but there was no sign of a collapse from the K’s. Instead, they stuck to their task on the 3G surface, Aaron Lamont driving positively through the middle and finding occasional space on the break.

Gokhan Can flitted around the edge of the match and might have equalised late in the second half but his strike at the back post was blocked by a Gate defender. Delano Sam-Yorke also lacked a decisive touch when drifting in from the flanks.

“I was encouraged today,” said Harris, “considering we had four brand new players who didn’t know anyone. Playing five at the back worked, Ismail Yakubu was commanding. What we really need is to get the first goal in a game.”

K's remain in 16th place, eight points clear of the relegation zone.