Macclesfield Town moved four points clear at the top of the Vanarama National League table on Saturday after a 2-1 win at the EBB Stadium against in-form, but ten-man Aldershot Town.
And in front of a crowd of 4,358 the Silkmen got off to a terrific start when they took a 3rd minute lead when Macc striker Nathan Blissett and Shots defender Will Evans clashed on the edge of the box, but the referee pointed to the spot.
Evans was dismissed as the last man in bringing Blissett down and Danny Whitaker stroked the penalty into the bottom corner past Lewis Ward.
The visitors doubled their lead 2 minutes into the second half when Elliott Durrell broke into the box. Ward came out and dived at his feet, forcing Durrell wide and his low ball back into the six-yard box is scrambled in by Blissett amidst a crowd of players.
Just past the hour-mark though and the Shots were back in the game when Lewis Kinsella broke down the left, crossed to the near-post which was met by George Pilkington and after deliberation, the referee adjudged it was met with a hand, and Scott Rendell drove his penalty beyond Shwan Jalal’s dive.
The ten-men gave it a go right to the end, and in the 6th minute of stoppage time, Adam McDonnell`s whipped in cross was met by a scrum of bodies, but Macclesfield managed to hack the ball clear and that proved to be the final kick of the game.
Tranmere Rovers are now second after extending their unbeaten run to seven matches with a 1-0 Prenton Park victory over Bromley.
In front of 5,536, what proved to be the only goal of the game came after 36 minutes when a long ball forward defeated defenders and goalkeeper David Gregory and Connor Jennings was there to poke into an empty net.
Bromley had few opportunities, but right at the end of the game, in the 3rd minute of time added on, they almost snatched a point when the ball ricocheted inside the Tranmere penalty area and fell to Josh Rees who fired over the bar.
Another big clash saw top five sides Sutton United and Wrexham meet at Gander Green Lane.
But the teams both dropped a place in the table after sharing a 1-1 draw.
Scott Quigley handed the visitors a 20th minute lead, getting on the end of a good Scott Boden through ball.
But 2 minutes into the second half, the U`s were back on level terms when
Simon Walton was on hand to tap in from close range after a header from a corner had come back off the crossbar.
The home side nearly won it near the end when a cross in from Tom Bolarinwa was headed goalwards by new loan signing from Barrow AFC, Byron Harrison, and it skimmed the top of the bar.
Boreham Wood are sixth and AFC Fylde seventh, but only the former managed a win on Saturday.
They beat mid-table Gateshead 2-1 at Meadow Park.
And it was Bruno Andrade who was the Wood hero, giving them a 35th minute lead in spectacular fashion when he met Morgan Ferrier`s cross with a bicycle kick which flew past James Montgomery in the Heed goal.
The visitors pulled level 10 minutes into the second half when Wood `keeper Grant Smith was deceived by a Russell Penn effort which took a wicked deflection off Wes York.
But up popped Andrade to win the game for Luke Garrard`s side, beating Montgomery from an acute angle in the 75th minute.
AFC Fylde became the latest victims of Leyton Orient`s improved form as the O`s won 1-0 at Mill Farm to move up to sixteenth spot.
A penalty from Macauley Bonne just before half-time eventually secured the O’s three points on the road.
Dan Holman was brought down under the challenge of Simon Grand and Bonne stepped up to smash passed Fylde `keeper Jay Lynch to register his 16th league goal of the season to date.
Ebbsfleet United and Dagenham & Redbridge were both handed a chance to get back into the play-off race after defeats for Fylde, Bromley and Dover Athletic, who were beaten 3-2 at the Automated Technology Group Stadium by relegation-threatened Solihull Moors.
It was the Whites who drew first blood after 22 minutes when Anthony Jeffrey was brought down in the box by Kyle Storer and Ryan Bird duly converted the resulting penalty.
But the lead lasted barely 7 minutes as Storer made amends when he fired a loose ball past Mitch Walker.
It was all-square at the break, but Dover re-took the lead on the hour-mark when a defensive mix-up allowed Mitch Pinnock to score.
Fifteen minutes from time though, Mark Yates` side were back on level terms again when they were awarded a spot-kick of their own after Manny Parry had brought down Kwame Thomas, who dusted himself down before slotting the penalty past Walker.
And with 6 minutes remaining, shortly after Moors` skipper Darren Carter had been denied, sub Alex Reid made it 3-2 from close range to win it for the hosts and lift them to within two points of the safety-mark.
Just above Moors are FC Halifax Town after they were beaten 2-1 at The Shay by Ebbsfleet, who are tenth but only three points now behind Fylde.
And Darryl McMahon`s side had to come back from behind to win too, after trailing at half-time to a 37th minute penalty converted by Matty Kotylo after he had been fouled.
Corey Whitely, only signed yesterday from Dagenham & Redbridge and on as a half-time sub, equalised 10 minutes into his debut to pull Fleet back on level terms from close in.
And then 5 minutes later, Luke Coulson headed Fleet in front – a lead they held on to and ensure the Shaymen remain without a win this year.
Dagenham are just a point and a place behind Fleet after they enjoyed a comprehensive 3-0 win at Plainmoor against second-bottom Torquay United.
Torquay are now eight points behind FC Halifax and have played a game more.
It was goalless at half-time, but just 5 minutes into the second period, the Daggers broke the deadlock when Fejiri Okenabirhie fired past Vincent Dorel.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 76th minute when Craig Robson netted following a free-kick.
And a third came in stoppage time when Okenabirhie’s shot was deflected in, although it did appear to be a Michee Efete own goal.
To make it an even worse day for the Gulls, news filtered through that fellow strugglers Chester FC had beaten Eastleigh 3-1 at the Swansway Chester Stadium to move three points ahead of them and to within three points of Solihull.
Chester opened the scoring after 19 minutes when Ross Hannah ran clear of the Spitfires defence to slot past Graham Stack.
However, within a minute the lead was cancelled out when Mark Yeates managed to beat Sam Hornby at the second attempt.
Crucially though, Chester were back in front just before half-time with a second for striker Hannah from close range.
It got a little nervy in the second period, although Hannah did come close to completing his hat-trick with an effort that crashed back off the crossbar.
But they made sure of three precious points when sub James Akintunde netted from close range to make it 3-1.
Barrow AFC were another relegation-threatened side to have a good day as they moved up to nineteenth after a 1-0 win at the Gallagher Stadium against a Maidstone United outfit who are now looking over their shoulders at the bottom end of the table, being just four points better off than the Bluebirds.
Ady Pennock`s side have a decent record on the road and, despite concerted pressure from the Stones in the second half, held on to a lead given to them after 31 minutes when Luke James fired home his first goal for the club.
It`s not looking so good for Guiseley AFC, however, as a 3-1 Nethermoor :Park defeat by Maidenhead United leaves them thirteen points behind the safety-mark and, of course, managerless following Paul Cox`s departure this week.
And they led in this game as well when Dayle Southwell put them in front after 19 minutes.
But the Magpies led 2-1 at the break, thanks to Jake Hyde`s close range effort on the half-hour mark and Harry Pritchard`s first of the afternoon in the 43rd minute.
His second and Maidenhead`s third came just 3 minutes into the second half when he scored after a swift counter attack.
Hartlepool United chose an apt afternoon to end an eleven-game winless run, given results elsewhere.
Pools beat Woking 3-2 at The Northern Gas and Power Stadium to lift them four points clear of the drop zone.
Pools had not won at home on a Saturday since September 9th, so when Devante Rodney showed composure to fire home and give them a 19th minute lead, there was a measure of relief in the ground.
On 34 minutes, the hosts doubled their lead when they returned a corner to the area, and Jake Cassidy turned and fired in from 18 yards.
On 43 minutes, it was 3-0 when Connor Newton chipped the ball into the area and Rhys Oates got in front of keeper Nathan Baxter to head home.
Two late goals caused home fans to sweat, however, as on 84 minutes Reece Grego-Cox’s low shot made it 1-3 and 4 minutes into stoppage time a close-range header from the same player made it 2-3, but fortunately for Craig Harrison and home fans in the 3,018 crowd, the whistle went seconds later.