Hednesford Town comfortably beat Whitby Town 4-0 and, as North Ferriby drew a blank against Nantwich Town, The Pitmen are now level on points at the summit of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division with four games remaining.
Hednesford started with real purpose as Neil Harvey shot over inside 60 seconds, Jamey Osborne cheekily back-heeled wide and Kris Taylor’s free kick hit the wall before the nerves inside Keys Park were settled when an Elliott Durrell free kick was spilled by the goalkeeper into the path of either Alex White or Kevin Burgess who couldn’t help but divert the ball into his own net.
Whitby imposed themselves on the match before the home side’s second goal came ten minutes before the break as Michael Lennon swept the ball past Nicholas Liversedge after the goalkeeper had saved from both Harvey and Durrell.
Whitby had the opportunity either side of half time to halve the deficit as firstly a deep free kick was headed across goal and over the cross bar and then Dan Crane saved instinctively from Steven Snaith two minutes after the break from point blank range.
That block proved vital as, on the hour mark, Durrell worked hard down the right and crossed for Harvey, who powered a superb header into the corner to make the game safe for the home side.
Harvey scored his second goal of the afternoon with an assured finish after Lennon had crashed a shot against the crossbar on 62 minutes, a chance set up by smart play between Jamey Osborne and John Disney as Hednesford began to cruise to an important victory.
Crane ensured The Pitmen kept a clean sheet with a smart save from Graeme Armstrong who was played through the centre of the defence, but The Pitmen comfortably saw out the victory to make it four home wins and three clean sheets in succession.
The Pitmen now face two tricky away fixtures as they travel to Buxton on Wednesday night and then to Ilkeston next Saturday and, as the season reaches its dramatic climax, if Rob Smith’s team can secure maximum points from both those matches their title hopes will be raised even higher.
North Ferriby, a team who have been top for no less than six months of the season, will go into their game away to Matlock Town on Tuesday night fully aware that anything less than a victory would give Hednesford, playing 24 hours later, the opportunity to go clear at the top for the first time with just three matches remaining.
Crane, Disney, Campion (c), Bailey (7), Francis, Macpherson, Osborne, Durrell (Woolfe 68), Harvey (59, 65) (Rey 77), Lennon (35) (Patterson 71), Taylor,
Subs Not Used
Liversedge, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, White (James 71), McTiernan, Portas, Purewal, Snaith, Armstong (Evans 62), Mulligan,
Subs Not Used
Williams, Farrell, Campbell,
Bookings – Campion
Attendance – 504
Star Man – Kris Taylor
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars