By Joshua Thorp
Non-League day proved to be a success once again and the National League South certainly did not disappoint. Mid-table drama followed by important wins for promotion pushers Maidstone and Dartford upped the stakes at this crucial stage of the season. Down in the basement, results ensured that the battle for survival is now as tight as ever.
Maidstone United Vs St Albans City
Relief for league leaders
The Stones overcame a stubborn St Albans side to solidify their position at the top of the division. In contrast, a further defeat for the away side stretched their winless run to 7 games and further faded their play-off hopes.
It looked to be an oncoming thrashing for Ian Allinson and his side after conceding 2 goals early on to give St Albans a mountain to climb. Midfielder Sam Corne put the home side ahead in the 2nd minute; with Jerome Binnom Williams piling on more misery to make it 2-0 in just the 7th minute.
League top-scorer and Saints talisman Shaun Jeffers scored an impressive brace in each half to equalise with the league leaders and take his tally to 25 goals over the campaign.
However, Maidstone showed a strong sense of character to snatch the points in extra-time. On loan Charlton defender Johl Powell received the ball off the right from Christie Pattison and made no mistake in putting the game to bed. Victory here was made only sweeter with news of title rivals Dorking dropping points; giving The Stones a 4 point lead at the summit.
Chelmsford City Vs Hungerford Town
Clarets continue to crumble
Hungerford picked up their first points since late February (courtesy of a 1-0 win against Concord) to ease the pressure on manager Danny Robinson and his squad. Both teams entered the game desperate for a victory but it was the away side that made the most of their chances; leading Chelmsford to a seventh straight defeat.
Currently sat second in the top scorers table; Crusaders forward Ryan Seager scored an impressive second half brace to take his tally to 24 goals.
In reflection of current form, Chelmsford will be thankful that only a single team can be relegated from the division, currently occupied by Welling United. These are worrying times however, with Welling beating the Clarets in the game prior. Manager Robbie Simpson will hope his side can capitalize on upcoming relegation scraps against Tonbridge and Billericay.
Eastbourne Borough Vs Bath City
Boro bury Bath
Play-off chasing Eastbourne grinded out an important yet gritty 2-0 victory over division strugglers Bath who had remained undefeated three games prior.
The deadlock was broken in the 24th minute, young striker Charley Kendall scored from close-range to give the home side the lead. The Sports doubled their advantage just after half-time, Jayden Perez capitalising to ensure victory.
Currently just 2 points above Chelmsford having played a game more, defeat for Bath leaves them staring into the face of relegation. On the contrary, Eastbourne are looking to be strong contenders for promotion with a fifth straight victory. Facing a run-in against some of the league's lower sides, manager Danny Bloor will be hoping to see many more points coming their way.
Ebbsfleet United Vs Dorking Wanderers
Dorking draw away
An important fixture between 2 of the division's high-flying sides resulted in a 1-1 draw. Despite each team avoiding defeat at such an important stage of the season, Ebbsfleet will see this as a missed opportunity to close the 5 point gap in the table with The Wanderers having played a game more in second place.
James McShane put Dorking ahead in the 16th minute, marking his 11th goal in 20 league matches. However, the away side were only able to maintain their lead for 3 minutes; Rakish Bingham scoring his 7th of the campaign to share the points.
After falling to a heavy 5-1 defeat in the reverse fixture last January, The Fleet were not able to take advantage of further chances throughout and gain revenge on their promotion rivals. A past result that could prove costly later in the season.
Hampton & Richmond Vs Dartford
Darts defeat Hampton
Promotion-chasing Dartford earned themselves a routine 1-0 win away to mid-table pushers Hampton. The win came courtesy of a sole goal from Marcus Dinanga to keep The Darts chances of promotion to the National League very much alive.
The loss here brings the home side's impressive form to an end. Having obtained 8 points from 4 games after 4 straight defeats, manager Gary McCann will aim to get back on track and focus on achieving a mid-table finish for his side. With vital upcoming winnable games, Hampton still have a lot to play for.
Hemel Hempstead Vs Tonbridge Angels
Hairs raised at Hemel
Hemel Hempstead bounced back from consecutive defeats to overcome an excellent Tonbridge side who put their all into an entertaining 4-3 victory. The game provided twists and turns with more than its fair share of drama.
It was the home side who took an early lead; courtesy of Pierre Fonkeu. The Angels equalised just after the half an hour mark before Fonkeu put Hemel back into the driving seat. The striker hit the crossbar before taking advantage of the rebound to make it 2-1 at half-time.
Tonbridge were relentless and bit back to equalise on 2 further occasions. However, their spirit went unrewarded with midfielder Christopher Paul scoring after some poor defending to win the game for Hemel in what had been a thriller. Late reckless on-field behaviour from Craig Fasanmade and Joash Nembhard resulted in red cards, referee action that will come back to haunt The Tudors.
The result leaves Tonbridge facing a relegation scrap to remain in the 6th tier whilst Hemel sit steadily in 12th and surely safe from danger.
Elsewhere in the National League South...
Midfielder Danny Green scored a dramatic late penalty to rescue a point for Concord Rangers in a 2-2 draw at Thames Road against Dulwich Hamlet.
Basement side Billericay continued their impressive new-found form to draw 2-2 with Havant & Waterlooville who have also seen a recent upturn in fortunes. They now remain unbeaten in 7 games whilst Billericay stretched their run to 5.
Braintree picked up a vital 2-0 victory over fellow mid-table side Slough Town. Despite the loss, The Rebels remain a league position above with a game in hand.