The race for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South title took an unexpected twist on Saturday as leaders Shaw Lane AFC and second-placed Witton Albion both lost!
A 58th minute header by Ben Hutchinson’s decided a tense but entertaining battle between first-placed Shaw Lane and fifth-placed Basford United kept the Nottinghamshire side`s play-off hopes alive at rain drenched Greenwich Avenue.
Hutchinson headed in Fabian Smith’s precise cross at the far post, but Basford’s real match winner was keeper Saul Deeney who pulled off a string of fine saves.
Witton`s thirteen game unbeaten run and their proud undefeated home record disappeared in one afternoon at Wincham Park – and to relegation-threatened Rugby Town too.
Rugby made it back-to-back wins to move four points clear of the drop zone.
They led through Ryan Quinn`s early 4th minute opener until just before the break when Steven Tames pulled Albion level.
Will Jones then put the home side ahead 9 minutes after the restart, only for Chris Sterling to level 3 minutes later.
Aaron Moses-Garvey threatened a shock when he made it 3-2 for the visitors just 54 minutes from time.
But there was still time for two more goals, with sub Tolani Omotola seemingly earning Witton a point with a goal in the first minute of stoppage time. However, Sterling`s second earned Valley a vital and surprise three points.
Third-placed Spalding United beat Belper Town 1-0 at the Sir Halley Stewart Field, thanks to a 57th minute Lee Beeson penalty, while AFC Rushden & Diamonds are fourth after they beat fellow play-off contenders Leek Town 2-1 at the Dog & Duck.
In front of 470, Ben Farrell crucially put Diamonds in front right on half-time.
But Darren Chadwick`s 67th minute equaliser looked like taking a point back to Staffordshire, until Nabil Shariff popped up with an 84th minute winner for the hosts.
It`s tight for the play-off race though with Newcastle Town joining Diamonds and Basford on fifty-eight points after a 2-0 home win over Market Drayton Town.
Ricky Bridge gave Castle a 19th minute lead that Chris Baker doubled 8 minutes before the interval.
Elsewhere, Stamford AFC produced one of their worst home performances of the season as Stocksbridge Park Steels went nap at the Zeeco Stadium.
Steels led 2-0 at the break with goals from the recently returned Richard Stirrup and a Harrison Biggins penalty.
And they added three more after the break through Scott Ruthven with two and Josh Hobson – the Daniels not having a shot on target.
A goal from Will Mellors-Blair 8 minutes after half-time virtually sealed Carlton Town`s place in the division next season as they won at Sheffield FC.
Gresley FC edged out Romulus by the odd goal in three at the Moat, with Matt Melbourne and Leando Browne outgunning Jordan Francis, while Bedworth United enjoyed a 3-2 win at Chasetown with goals from Dan Creaney after 13 and 53 minutes, sandwiched by a Jack Jeys effort on 33 minutes – the Scholars replying through Jack Langston after 19 minutes and ex-Greenback Mitch Piggon in stoppage time.