Tranmere Rovers will head into 2017 as leaders of the Vanarama National League after Lincoln City’s long unbeaten run was brought to an end in dramatic fashion at struggling Guiseley AFC on Boxing Day.
It was 1-1 at half-time after Luke Waterfall’s 26th minute header cancelled out Will Hatfield’s 12th minute opener for the Lions.
Both sides were then reduced to ten-men in the closing stages before Guiseley snatched their winning goal.
Home striker Michael Rankine was first to see red following two bookable offences on 82 minutes. He was followed off by Imps midfielder Elliott Whitehouse, who also collected two yellow cards 6 minutes later.
Then in the 90th minute a powerful free-kick from Marcus Williams was spilled by City keeper Paul Farman and crept over the line amid a goalmouth scramble after which Hatfield claimed the final touch.
Tranmere took over top spot, but left it late in front of a bumper 7,274 gate at Prenton Park.
Macclesfield looked to have earned a point until Jeff Hughes got to a cross before goalkeeper Craig Ross to nod into an empty net 7 minutes from time.
It wasn`t a good festive day for the top five contenders overall, as Forest Green Rovers and Dagenham & Redbridge were both beaten and Barrow AFC were held to a home draw.
Forest Green suffered a best-of-seven defeat at Plainmoor against a Torquay United side who must have feared the worst after being pegged back from being three-up!
Considering the opening 45 minutes produced little in the way of goalmouth action, few would have predicted seeing seven in the second half!
The hosts took the lead in the 55th minute when Nathan Blissett converted Dan Sparkes’ cross.
And the Gulls shocked their high-flying visitors by moving 3-0 up with goals from David Fitzpatrick 10 minutes later and Sean McGinty on 69 minutes.
But the hosts were stunned by three Forest Green goals in 4 minutes, starting with sub Christian Doidge’s header in the 73rd minute, then Charlie Clough and then Ethan Pinnock headed the equaliser.
Despite the momentum being with Forest Green, it was Torquay who won it, courtesy of Ben Gerring’s header 8 minutes from time.
In contrast, Barrow and Gateshead couldn`t find a goal between them at the Furness Building Society Stadium.
Barrow came closest to breaking the deadlock when efforts from Lindon Meikle and Alex-Ray Harvey hit the woodwork, but the draw at least maintains the Bluebirds unbeaten run which now stretches to twenty-four matches.
Dagenham lost an eventful Essex derby at the Amlin Stadium to Braintree Town.
Oliver Hawkins put the visitors in front after 32 minutes when he headed in Jordan Maguire-Drew’s cross, but the Iron levelled just 3 minutes later through their top scorer Michael Cheek.
Simeon Akinola’s penalty on the stroke of half-time put Braintree ahead at the break but 2 minutes after the interval the Daggers were awarded a spot-kick of their own and, while Hawkins’ effort was saved, Maguire-Drew was on hand to convert the rebound.
The Daggers had Scott Doe sent-off for a second booking on the hour-mark, and Braintree took advantage as Akinola scored his second 5 minutes later.
Braintree’s Ebou Adams was also dismissed on 73 minutes but Dagenham were reduced to nine-men when Magnus Okuonghae went off with a head injury injured after all three substitutions had been made.
The Kent derby between Dover Athletic and Maidstone United ended honours` even at Crabble.
Ricky Miller`s 25th goal of the season to date gave the Whites a 16th minute lead from the spot after he had been brought down in the box.
The Stones, who needed points at the opposite end of the table, grabbed a very useful point when Jamar Loza`s cross caught Dover keeper Steve Arnold in no-mans` land and the ball went in off a post.
Chester FC`s unbeaten run came crashing to a halt at Solihull Moors.
Chester were stunned when they had Johnny Hunt dismissed for what was deemed as being a reckless tackle with only 16 minutes gone on the clock.
But Elliott Durrell fired Chester ahead just 2 minutes later after it looked like being a tough afternoon for the visitors.
The Moors pulled level in first half injury-time when Omari Sterling-James curled in a free-kick.
Harry White then volleyed the home side in front on 56 minutes before Sterling-James rounded the keeper 13 minutes later to score from a narrow angle and make it 3-1.
Sub Kane Richards pulled one back for Chester 4 minutes into stoppage time but it came too late to have an effect on the outcome.
Aldershot Town are just behind Chester now in eighth after an emphatic 4-0 EBB Stadium win over struggling Woking.
Garry Hill’s side were completely outplayed by a rampant Shots side, who found themselves 3-0 up by the 25th minute, adding another before half-time.
To rub salt into the wounds, the main damage was done by former Card, Scott Rendell, who bagged a hat-trick, sandwiched by a Shamir Fenelon effort.
The other ‘old boy’, Jake Cole, stuck the knife in too, saving a penalty, although if Anthony Edgar’s strike had gone in, it would have been no more than a consolation goal – not that that would have consoled those Cards fans who had had to endure another humiliating afternoon.
Bromley had a late win at Hayes Lane against Sutton United.
Many of the decent crowd of 2,036 were making their way out of the ground when sub Louis Dennis scored what proved to be the winner for the hosts in the 5th minute of stoppage time.
Wrexham claimed a first win in four league games as they saw off Southport at the Racecourse Ground to push Steve Burr`s side back towards trouble.
The visitors came close to breaking the deadlock with two Andrai Jones headers.
But the hosts took all three points when Kai Edwards forced home a cross from Jordan Evans just 2 minutes from time.
There was an early season `six-pointer` at North Ferriby United`s EON Visual Media Stadium as they hosted fellow strugglers York City.
And it ended with Ferriby back on bottom spot after the Minstermen`s first league win since early September.
A goal from Arran Rancine after 13 minutes eventually proved enough for Gary Mills` side and earn them a first away win in over a year.