Ten-man Macclesfield Town hung on to win the big game in the Vanarama National League against Sutton United on the final Saturday of 2017 and head into the New Year with a six-point lead at the top of the table.
Things could hardly have started better for the Silkmen when they were awarded a 9th minute penalty which Danny Whitaker gratefully converted.
Sutton came close to levelling after 22 minutes when Craig Eastmond`s shot with the outside of his foot curled over Macc `keeper Shwan Jalal from 30 yards but smacked back off the crossbar.
At the other end, Jamie Butler saved well from Elliott Durrell, but the home side suffered a massive blow on 62 minutes when Ross Lafayette was brought crashing down by Jalal after getting on the end of a through ball and the Silkmen keeper was sent-off.
Tyrone Marsh was sacrificed so manager John Askey could bring on sub keeper Sam Ramsbottom and he made two crucial saves in the 76th minute from Kenny Davis and then 5 minutes from time from Lafayette.
Aldershot Town are second on goal difference, but were held to a 1-1 draw in the live BT Sport game against Maidstone United at lunchtime.
It was a decent game at the EBB Stadium, but it looked as though the Stones were heading for a good win after Aaron Collins scored his first goal in the final match of his month`s loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers just 3 minutes into the second half.
And the visitors had several chances to kill off the hosts but couldn’t add a second and paid the price when Jim Kellermann headed home a corner in the 3rd minute of stoppage time to earn The Shots a vital point.
Gary Waddock`s side are second because Dover Athletic could only manage a 0-0 draw at Crabble against lower mid-table FC Halifax Town.
It was a very creditable point for the Shaymen, who faced a second very tough away trip in succession after losing 2-1 to league leaders Macclesfield on Boxing Day.
But they were strong and resolute, and even had to dig in deeper in stoppage time after they had Danny Clarke dismissed for a second booking.
Tranmere Rovers are up to sixth place in the table after a strong second half performance saw them ease to a 4-0 Prenton Park win over third-bottom Guiseley AFC.
In front of a crowd of 5,271, the first half was disappointing from the home side, with the Lions giving as good as they got, and new signing Rowan Liburd coming close to giving them a 23rd minute lead, only to be denied by keeper Scott Davies, who saved well low to his left.
Then breakthrough finally came for the home side on 65 minutes when James Norwood fired a left-footed effort past Jonny Maxted from 20 yards.
Five minutes later, Tranmere doubled their lead when Connor Jennings broke past one challenge and then poked the ball home.
On 78 minutes, the game was over as Jennings found himself in the right place at the right time when the ball fell to him and he finished neatly.
And on 86 minutes, Andy Cook fired in a low shot from the edge of the area to make it 4-0.
Boreham Wood are now seventh after beating second-bottom Torquay United 2-0 at Meadow Park.
In a match where the visitors struggled as an attacking force, Wood took the lead in the 11th minute when Angelo Balanta reacted quickest after the ball broke inside the box and poked home from close range.
And the points were confirmed in the 81st minute when Alex Davey was adjudged to have fouled Bruno Andrade in the box to give away a penalty.
Andrade scored resulting spot-kick to put the game beyond doubt.
Dagenham & Redbridge are eighth after sharing a 1-1 draw at Stonebridge Road with tenth-placed Ebbsfleet United.
Ebbsfleet led at half-time through Jack Powell’s 33rd minute goal but were under siege in the second period.
But it looked as though Fleet were going to hold on for a sixth successive home win, but the Daggers finally grabbed an equaliser 4 minutes from time when Matt Robinson’s shot took a deflection off Mason Bloomfield and wrong-footed Fleet `keeper Nathan Ashmore.
Ten-man Leyton Orient suffered a first defeat in five games as Bromley ran out 1-0 winners at the Matchroom Stadium.
The O`s suffered a massive blown when they were reduced the ten-men after only 4 minutes when Bondz N’Gala was sent-off after he was adjudged to have fouled former Orient player George Porter.
Bromley then enjoyed large spells of possession and despite the O’s standing firm, the man advantage soon paid off after 22 minutes when Louis Dennis was played through and finished beyond Dean Brill to give the visitors the lead – a lead they held, despite a spirited second half from the home side in front of 5,227.
Eastleigh grabbed a last-gasp equaliser to earn a point from a 2-2 draw against ten-man Woking at the Silverlake Stadium.
After a goalless opening 45 minutes, the second period was all-action, and on 54 minutes the Cards were reduced to ten-men when Chez Issac was dismissed for a rash challenge on Cav Miley on the halfway line.
Ten minutes later, the Spitfires took advantage of their extra man when Chris Zebroski fired them in front.
But just 6 minutes later, Charlie Carter beat replacement keeper Ross Flitney – on for the injured Graham Stack – from close range.
Then on 83 minutes, Carter was brought down in the box by Danny Hollands and Inih Effiong duly converted the resulting penalty to make it 2-1 to the Cards.
It didn`t look as though it was going to be Eastleigh`s day when sub James Constable hit a post 3 minutes from time.
But in stoppage time, defender Callum Howe popped up with the home side`s late leveller.
Ten-man AFC Fylde came from behind to earn an excellent 2-1 win at York Road against Maidenhead United.
The Coasters almost took a 20th minute lead when Danny Rowe`s thunderous 30-yard effort cannoned off the bar and follow-up efforts from Jordan Richards and Sam Finley are both cleared off the line.
But a minute before the break, it is the Magpies who draw first blood when Moses Emmanuel was brought down by George Edmundson and Harry Pritchard converted the resulting spot-kick.
The second half begins with a great save by Maidenhead `keeper Carl Pentney to deny the dangerous Jonny Smith.
But on 71 minutes, the visitors were level when Pentney saved a close-range header only for Lewis Montrose to stab the ball home from two yards out.
The on 83 minutes, the Coasters went in front when Rowe played in sub Jack Muldoon, who beat his marker and fired into the bottom left corner from the edge of the area.
However, 2 minutes later, Fylde were reduced to ten-men with a second yellow card for skipper Finley.
Visiting `keeper Jay Lynch pulled off a fine save late on to deny Christian Smith, but Dave Challinor`s side held on for three valuable points.
Bottom side Solihull Moors inflicted more home misery on Barrow AFC as they claimed their first away win since October and made it five home matches without a victory for the Bluebirds.
It was goalless at the break, but 10 minutes into the second half, Barrow took the lead when a Dan Jones throw into the six-yard box was headed home by Asa Hall.
The response came just 7 minutes later as Darren Carter fired in from 18 yards to beat Joel Dixon.
And Solihull scored what proved to be the winner in the 84th minute when they were awarded a penalty when Moussa Diarra brought down Jamey Osborne, and James Reckford slotted home the resulting spot-kick.
Despite the win, Solihull are still nine points behind Barrow, who hold twentieth spot.