Boxing Day proved to be a good one for Vanarama National League leaders Cheltenham Town.
They won 2-1 at Aggborough against plucky strugglers Kidderminster Harriers, while second-placed neighbours Forest Green Rovers were hammered 4-1 at another of the teams near the foot of the table, Torquay United.
In front of a crowd of 3,238, Harriers fell behind to Danny Wright’s header after 26 minutes only for on-loan West Bromwich Albion defender Kyle Howkins to level with his first goal for Harriers on the half-hour mark.
But Cheltenham upped their game after the break and finally broke the resistance of goalkeeper Dean Snedker and his defenders through defender Aaron Downes in the 67th minute.
Meanwhile, at the Launa Windows Stadium, Forest Green were on the wrong end of arguably Torquay`s best performance of the season to date.
Rovers went ahead on 20 minutes with a stunner from Keanu Marsh-Brown, who struck a powerful effort past Steve Arnold from 25 yards.
But just 2 minutes later Torquay were level.
West Brom loanee Andre Wright crossed into the six-yard box for Tyrone Marsh to stab over the line, despite an attempt from Arnold to keep the ball from crossing the line.
And the home side went ahead after 37 minutes when Courtney Richards crossed for Marsh to plant a free header home.
Torquay eventually made it 3-1 on 83 minutes when sub Louis Briscoe was thwarted twice by Arnold, but the ball broke to Durrell Berry, who scored from inside the box.
And Rovers were finished off when Wright made it 4-1 in the 89th minute.
Another boost for Cheltenham came with the news that third-placed Eastleigh had dropped two points at mid-table Bromley.
Moses Emmanuel’s neat lob over visiting keeper Ross Flitney gave the home side a 36th minute lead at half-time.
The home side doubled their lead immediately after the restart through Paul Rodgers’ fine effort.
In a frantic 5 minutes, Ben Strevens headed home from Josh Payne’s cross on 55 minutes and then James Constable’s cross on 59 minutes to earn his side a point.
Dover Athletic climbed to fourth in the table with a 2-1 derby win at Park View Road against Welling United.
Goals from Ricky Modeste after 13 minutes and skipper Nick Deverdics on 68 minutes proved the difference.
Welling, who dropped into the relegation zone as a consequence of this defeat, produced a grandstand finale, hitting the bar with a Barney Williams headers and pulling one back through Sam Corne, but Dover held firm.
Macclesfield Town missed the opportunity to put pressure on the top five when they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the Moss Rose against previously out-of-form Tranmere Rovers.
The visitors made a positive start and opened the scoring after just 5 minutes when Adam Mekki’s corner was met by a powerful header by Steve McNulty which went in off the post.
The Silkmen equalised right on the stroke of half-time when a cross from Chris Holroyd was headed home by leading marksman Kristian Dennis.
But in the 77th minute, Tranmere re-took the lead when another Mekki corner found Michael Ihiekwe at the near post who thundered a header past Shwan Jalal.
Macclesfield`s misery was complete when they were reduced to ten-men with 3 minutes remaining as Paul Lewis was sent-off for a second bookable offence.
FC Halifax Town kept their first clean sheet in the league for thirty-three games as they won 1-0 at another team looking to push towards the top five, Lincoln City.
Sam Walker’s 70th minute effort inflicted only Lincoln’s second home defeat of the season and earned the Shaymen just their third away league win of the campaign – continuing new boss Jim Harvey’s fine run since originally taking over as caretaker-manager.
It`s now six games unbeaten under Harvey and they are only four points behind fifth-bottom Boreham Wood.
It could have been just a point behind but for Wood`s 1-0 win against Braintree Town at Meadow Park.
Anthony Jeffrey’s early 7th minute effort eventually proved enough to help Wood pick up a hard-fought victory.
Jeffrey was later denied twice by good saves from Iron `keeper Will Norris as the home side searched for a second.
However, Braintree`s five-match unbeaten run came to an end.
Wrexham’s promotion push also suffered a set-back as they were beaten 1-0 by in-form by Southport at the Racecourse Ground.
It was Wrexham’s second home defeat in succession, and the only goal came in the 19th minute.
Adam Blakeman cut inside past Ross White on the left and unleashed a superb effort that beat goalkeeper Rhys Taylor.
Port almost doubled their lead at the start of the second half when Paul Rutherford sent in a corner and Josh Thompson’s header was brilliantly clawed off the line by Taylor.
Woking pulled level on points with Wrexham in ninth spot after winning the derby at the EBB Stadium against Aldershot Town.
The only goal of a tight game came slightly against the run of play with 5 minutes to go before the interval when Dan Holman’s superb pass allowed John Goddard beat Shots` keeper Phil Smith with his 12th goal of the season to date.
Joe Quigley had a chance to double Woking`s lead in the second period and
Aldershot almost equalised late on after a goalmouth scramble, but the visitors held on.
The games at Altrincham, Barrow and Guiseley were postponed.