There were two big matches in the Vanarama National League North on Thursday night affecting either end of the table.
At the top end, third-placed Brackley Town showed no signs of `switching off` before the Buildbase FA Trophy Final at Wembley after a terrific 3-0 win at Harrogate Town’s CNG Stadium against sixth-placed Spennymoor Town.
Moors started well and put the visitors under early pressure, but it was Brackley who opened the scoring after 17 minutes with a goal out of nothing when a fine pass by James Armson found Lee Ndovlu, who flicked the ball past an on-rushing Dan Lowson.
Then on the half-hour mark Kevin Wilkin`s side doubled their advantage from the penalty spot after Jamie Chandler was adjudged to have brought down Shepard Murombedzi and Armson struck the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
The second half saw chances for both sides, with Kallum Griffiths firing narrowly wide for Moors and Joe Tait’s 35-yard effort bringing a fine save from Brackley `keeper Danny Lewis.
But the points were wrapped up in the 90th minute when a scramble in the area saw the ball eventually fall to Shane Byrne on the edge of the box and he fired past Lowson to make it 3-0.
The win lifts the Saints to within five points of second-placed Harrogate with one game now in hand, while Moors remain in sixth, three points in front of eighth-placed Chorley.
The evening`s other game saw a thrilling encounter at the New Buck`s Head between AFC Telford United and Leamington, two teams battling to stay in the division.
And it saw the Bucks edge the encounter by the odd goal in five to move level on points with the Brakes and out of the bottom three, being replaced by Tamworth.
A crowd of 1,302 came to watch this `six-pointer` which started well for the home side when they profited when a cross came in and a Leamington defender slipped to let Marcus Dinanga in to score from close range.
But the Brakes were level within 3 minutes when the home defence couldn’t clear a corner and Junior English fired in from 10 yards out through a crowd of players and past Ben Wilson.
And it was the visitors who took the lead after 23 minutes when Daniel Udoh robbed the Bucks of possession on the edge of the box and beat Wilson with a cross-shot into the far corner.
Skipper Shane Sutton levelled after 34 minutes when a corner was half-cleared, returned into the box and flicked on to the far post, where Sutton flung himself to loop a header over Tony Breeden in the Brakes` goal.
What turned out to be a crucial winner for Telford came 9 minutes into the second half when another corner wasn’t dealt with, Breeden failed to collect the ball and defender Dom Smith forced the ball home from virtually on the goalline.
Leamington put the hosts under pressure as the game wore on and as nerves became apparent in this must-win game, but the Bucks held on and are now two points clear of the bottom three with five games remaining.