First met second at the Crucial Environmental Stadium, where Worthing were hosting Folkestone Invicta. Worthing knew that victory would put them eight points clear of their closest rivals, whilst Invicta were aware that if they could win the gap would be cut to two points, and give them real hope of overhauling the Mackerel Men to take the title. The game was goalless for eighty six minutes, and then in the eighty seventh the home fans were silenced as Ira Jackson put Invicta ahead. Worthing are very good at getting late goals, but try as they might they didn’t get one this time, and Invicta fans celebrated as the gap at the top narrowed considerably.
Cray Wanderers, who had climbed to third with victory over Worthing last weekend, hosted Kingstonian, who only had one defeat in ten but who were having their promotion charge held up because they’d drawn five of them. Well now they’ve drawn six in eleven, as neither side could break the deadlock. Cray slipped to fifth.
Hornchurch, in fourth and ten points off the pace, hosted Merstham, who had improved markedly in recent weeks and were unbeaten in four matches. It took only twelve minutes for the opening goal to arrive, and it came to the Urchins, George Saunders breaking the deadlock- but the visitors drew level twenty minutes after the restart, Calvin Ekpiteta continuing his hot streak in front of goal. It looked as if a draw would be the outcome, but right at the death up stepped Arthur Lee for the Urchins, who surely had taken victory? They hadn’t. Merstham pressure lead to an own goal, and the Moatsiders took a point after all.
Carshalton Athletic hosted Potters Bar Town. The Robins were buoyant after their win in Folkestone last weekend, whilst the Scholars defeated Hornchurch last time out so weren’t short on confidence themselves- but it was the home side who got themselves in front early on, Luke Read opening the scoring after eleven minutes. Ricky Korboa doubled their advantage just after the half hour, and shortly after the break Christie Pattisson as good as ended the contest with number three. Read’s second of the match had soon made it four-nil, and when Omar Koroma made it five just after the hour the visiting fans began to pray for the final whistle.
Keegan Cole did give the Bar Army something to shout about when he got a goal back with eighteen minutes remaining, but that was the end of the goals and the Robins climbed to third.
Margate, those perennial surprises from the Kent coast, travelled to the Essex coast to face bottom side Brightlingsea Regent. It took an hour for the deadlock to be broken, and it went in favour of the travelling Blues, Reece Prestedge opening the scoring for Margate. The visitors then went down to ten men, Kadell Daniel seeing red, and Regent took advantage to equalise, Jake Clowsley scoring six minutes from time.
Second bottom Wingate & Finchley hosted Bowers & Pitsea in a battle of the ampersands. The Blues came into the match in their best form of the season, winning their last two and unbeaten in three, whilst Bowers had only one defeat in five and won against Haringey Borough in midweek, so both sides should have been confident. The visitors found themselves in front after twenty four minutes, Brad Warner scoring from the spot, but the hosts equalised twelve minutes into the second half, Kane Farrell with the goal- before shooting themselves in the foot almost immediately as Sean Grace was shown a red card.
Bowers took advantage, and Jamie Dicks put them back in front with seventeen minutes remaining- but the ten men managed to grab a point as Luke Ifil got a last minute equaliser. Our headline image is from not-so-Summers Lane, taken by Stuart Fuller.
Maldon & Tiptree and Heybridge Swifts started the day level on points at the top of the North Division, but with Swifts match postponed this was the Jammers chance to open up a gap. They travelled to Dereham Town, who normally guarantee goals- indeed only the top three had scored more- and the Magpies got the opener early on, Toby Hilliard warming up the home faithful. Charlee Hughes got the Jammers out of trouble before the break, and after the restart the home side found themselves down to ten men as Dion Frary saw red. Maldon haven’t needed any help to win this season, but they took advantage of Dereham’s lack of numbers as Connor Hubble put them ahead from the spot with ten minutes remaining, and held on to record a win which took them three points clear.
Third place Aveley started the day five points off top spot- but they didn’t intend to let the top two get away, and were soon two goals to the good at AFC Sudbury. Alex Akrofi got the first in the sixteenth minute, and only a minute later George Sykes made it two- but by half time the lead had been halved, Billy Holland getting a goal back. Seven minutes after the restart the Yellows drew level through Baris Altintop, but the visitors got their noses in front once more as Akrofi got his second and the Millers third. The Yellows weren’t finished, however, and Freddie King drew them level with seven minutes remaining- the final goal of the game, which saw the Millers drop to fourth.
Bury Town staged a late comeback to beat Histon last timeout, but a collection of injury troubles had seen them drop to fifth place. They travelled to face a Grays Athletic side who had fallen to twelfth place after good early season form evaporated, and the visitors made the breakthrough at Parkside, Emmanuel Machaya scoring after twenty three minutes. Six minutes later it was 0-2, Ross Crane doubling their advantage.
Grays got back into the game on fifty four minutes, Ruben Soares Junior halving the deficit, but they couldn’t find an equaliser and Bury are up to third.
Great Wakering Rovers had slipped to tenth place due to a run of one win and four defeats from their last five matches. They hosted Cambridge City, who were hoping to make it two wins in a row, and they started well, Ryan Sharman putting them ahead after only three minutes. It was two fourteen minutes later, Isaac Maynard doubling the advantage, and three before the break, Sharman's second making it a miserable trek back to the changing room for the hosts. The second half wasn’t much better for Rovers, Jarid Robson making it four just before the hour, which saw City go thirteenth.
Eighteenth place Brentwood Town took on thirteenth place Witham Town at Princes Park, home of National League South side Dartford. The Blues took the lead through Adam Topley midway through the first half, and just before the break Alan Fleming made it two- perhaps the home faithful were singing “can we play at Dartford every week?” Brentwood put a seven point cushion between themselves and bottom place, Romford having two matches in hand.
South Central Division
With leaders Hanwell Town and third place Westfield seeing their matches postponed, second place Ware could have gone back to the summit with victory over Tooting and Mitcham United. The Terrors had slipped to eighth due to winning only two of their last six, and yet with three matches in hand over most of the sides knew that their chances of promotion were far from over. They took the lead midway through the first half, Stefan Ilic with the goal, and could have made it two but Danny Bassett’s penalty was saved by Calum Kitscha.
The importance of that penalty save was brought home just before the hour when Leigh Rose equalised for the hosts, and Ware got the winner four minutes from time, Joshua Williams sending them back to the summit.
Chertsey Town had rediscovered their early season form of late, unbeaten in six matches- but it was their visitors today, Staines Town, who took an unexpected lead through Michael Onovwigun and then doubled it through Klajdi Cani after fifteen minutes. This woke the Curfews up, and how- within twenty minutes they’d turned the match on its head, new signing Antonio Simeone, Jake Baxter and Ashley Lodge made it three-two ten minutes before the break, before Andrew Crossley made it four from the spot five minutes later. Six minutes after the restart Jonathan Hippolyte got number five, and with four minutes remaining Baxter made it six. Cani got a late, late consolation, but it ended six-three- and the Curfews went fourth.
Waltham Abbey had slipped to seventh, a point outside the top five, but knew that they could climb as high as fourth with victory over Chalfont St Peter. They started like an express train, Rob Clark opening the scoring in the first minute, and by half time were out of sight, Leonne McKenzie, Louis Bowen, Nathan Koranteng and Billy Holland making it FIVE-NIL after forty one minutes. There wasn’t much let-up in the second half, Shiloh Remy making it six, but the Saints did at least get onto the scoresheet, Harry Lodovica pulling one back- and then they did it again as Luke Illsley made it six-two. That spurred the Abbotts into action once more, and Aron Gordon made it seven- but again the Saints came back to score, Lodovica with his second and their third. That was that, and although the visitors had won the second half, they’d lost the match by seven goals to three.
Bedfont Sports hosted Hertford Town. Sports saw their good run halted by three consecutive defeats, but had bounced back to win their last two, defeating Tooting and Northwood. Town had only one win from their last eight matches but had shown improved form in drawing their last two, against Marlow and Chalfont St Peter. The match remained goalless for ninety minutes, and then Veron Kokurinkov stepped up to win it for the hosts, who climb to eleventh.
With Hastings United seeing their match postponed, Ashford United knew that victory over Haywards Heath Town would take them to the top of the table- as would a draw given their better goal difference. The Nuts and Bolts had taken twenty seven points from their last thirty, whilst their visitors had only one point from their last five matches, so it was easy to see who the favourites were- but Heath turned that idea on its head by taking the lead midway through the first half, Trevor McCreadie getting the only goal of the first forty five minutes. The couldn’t hold the lead for long after the restart, however, Matthew Bourne equalising in the forty eighth minute, but neither side could add to the score. The Nuts and Bolts went above Hastings with a goal difference five better- but have now played one match more.
Second bottom Ramsgate had the rather formidable task of hosting Whitehawk. The Hawks had closed to within four points of the top of the table with a run which had seen them lose once in their last ten matches, and they took the lead after twenty five minutes, Duane Ofori-Acheampong with the opening goal- and the same player doubled their advantage just before the break. The Rams were handed a lifeline seven minutes after the break with an own goal, and they made the most of it as Tom Chapman drew them level eighteen minutes from time to earn them a point.
Herne Bay, in fifth, hosted VCD Athletic. Bay came back from the dead to grab a point at Faversham in midweek, and had lost only one of their last ten, whilst Vickers were two matches unbeaten and were hoping to continue their climb up the table. The opening goal was a long time in coming, and it came seventeen minutes from time when Charlie MacDonald put Vickers ahead from the spot. It turned out to be the only goal, and Athletic climb to tenth.
Sixth place Whyteleafe hosted Faversham hoping to close the gap on the top five, and took an early lead, Ryan Gondoh with the opening goal after only five minutes. They didn’t hold their lead for long, Emmanuel Oliwasemo equalising for the visitors in the fourteenth minute, but Andrew Sesay restored home advantage only two minutes later and after the break Matthew O’Donaghue made it three-one. The result saw leafe close to within three points of fifth place Herne Bay.
Guernsey, in eighth, travelled to Hythe Town for a match that was finished before the rest started. The Cannons had only lost one of their last ten but had seen their climb up the table slowed by three consecutive draws- but they took the lead three minutes before the break through Charlie Webster. They couldn’t hold it, however, Ross Allen equalising just before the break- but the second half saw only one goal, and it came to the hosts, Danny Walder giving them the points which saw them climb above their visitors into seventh.
Finally, Burgess Hill Town hosted Three Bridges. The Hillians fell behind after fifteen minutes, Curtis Gayler putting the visitors ahead, but were able to equalise on the stroke of half time through Drew Matthews and went ahead eleven minutes after the restart, Jordi Ndozid with the goal. Louie Downey made it three with twenty one minutes remaining, and when Drew Matthews got his second of the match with seven minutes remaining that was that. Ben Bacon did bring it back to four-two, but the Hillians go fourteenth with this victory.