There were three important matches in the Vanarama National League North on Thursday night.
The north-east derby between Spennymoor Town and Darlington attracted the biggest crowd of the season to the Brewery Field of 1,661 and saw the Quakers dish out a hammer blow to the hosts` play-off hopes with a 2-1 win.
In Spennmooor`s first game back home after playing three matches at Harrogate Town`s CNG Stadium, they could barely have asked for a better start when former Darlington favourite Jamie Chandler scored after just 2 minutes after Andrew Johnson`s initial shot had been blocked.
The Quakers got themselves back into the game after 23 minutes when Reece Styche surged past two Moors` defenders before beating `keeper Dan Lowson.
And, despite having the home side having the lions` share of possession, it was the visitors who took the lead just shy of the hour-mark when Stephen Thompson`s ball into the box caused confusion and Moors` defender Joe Tait headed the ball past his own keeper.
The hosts tried hard to get back into the game, but Darlington held them at bay.
Spennymoor still hold the upper hand in the play-off race as they are seventh, two points in front of the chasing pack but have four games still left to play.
One of those in the chasing pack are another north-east outfit, Blyth Spartans, whose barren run of seven games without a win has seen them slip out of the top seven and now relying on others to help them out.
But a crucial win at Croft Park against an equally out-of-sorts Southport saw the Spartans move to within four points of Spennymoor with three games left.
It was goals at either end of the game that proved decisive with a fine opener from Jarrett Rivers giving Blyth a 10th minute lead after a fine pass from Robbie Dale.
And they finally confirmed victory in the 90th minute with Dale again the provider for sub Adam Wrightson to finish past Mark Halstead.
Defeat now means Southport have now fallen to six straight defeats and still not completely safe from relegation.
Sixth-placed Chorley also had their top seven hopes dealt a blow when they suffered a 2-0 defeat at Leamington, who are now a point above Southport and virtually safe.
It was a tail of two second half penalties after a disappointing opening 45 minutes – Chorley having played just 48 hours earlier.
But the deadlock was finally broken in the 70th minute when sub Ahmed Obeng was deemed to have been fouled by Matty Hughes in the box.
Leamington captain and goalkeeper Breeden stepped up to smash the ball past his opposite number.
And the 93rd minute and the outcome was settled when Leamington broke and Daniel Udoh went down in the box under the challenge of two defenders.
Hughes was sent-off for protesting and with Breeden opting to stay in his own half this time, Callum Gittings stepped up to send Matt Urwin the wrong way to bring survival closer.