Michael Gould got the only goal as Mile Oak Football Club moved back into the Southern Combination League Division 1 promotion places on Saturday.
Gould’s effort 25 minutes from time ensured Oak sealed a 1-0 home triumph over Little Common.
After starting the day two points and a place-below Common in fourth, Mile Oak’s win helped them move up a place and a point ahead of Little Common, though, they have played two games more.
Aaron Stenning in Oak’s goal proved to be the late hero after saving Wes Tate’s late spot-kick to keep his side’s hopes of a top-three finish this season alive.
Mile Oak boss Ben Shoulders was relieved to get the win and ensure his squad remain in promotion contention.
He said: “This was a massive win for us. We knew we had to win to have any chance of finishing in the top-three and we’ve kept those hopes alive.
“Having said that, it’s still very much down to Little Common. They have got a couple of hard games coming up, so fingers crossed, we just have to make sure we take maximum points from our final three games.
“It was a tight game, which I was expecting, a lot of the play in the first half was in midfield.
“We knew what was required in the second half and started to make more chances before finally scoring.
“It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for the final ten minutes but we did well to hold on.”
With both teams knowing what was at stake the opening 45 minutes saw very few chances created.
Oak saw their promotion hopes fading and came out flying in the second. Joseph Benn pulled back for Gould, whose first-time strike went wide five minutes after the restart.
Common’s Lewis Hole look destined to fire his side ahead on the hour but Stenning somehow pulled off a fine save with his feet as it remained scoreless.
The game’s only goal then came 25 minutes from time. Joseph Benn’s free-kick struck a post with Gould poking home the rebound.
A sloppy touch from Damon Pollard saw him lose possession, then trip an opposition forward in the area with a spot-kick awarded five minutes from time.
Tate’s penalty was saved by Stenning as Oak held on for a valuable three points
With Shoulders’ side still in top-three contention, Oak’s boss believes it has been a cracking season - no matter where they finish.
He added: “It has been a really good season. If you had offered me fourth before a ball had been kicked then I would have snapped your hand off.
“For us to still be in with a chance of finishing in the top-three with three games to go is massive.”
Mile Oak host second-bottom St Francis Rangers as they look to keep their promotion hopes alive on Saturday.
MILE OAK: Stenning; Early, Pollard, Hall, Stevens; E.Benn, J.Benn, Austin-Slade; McKenzie, Arnold, Gould. Subs: Coates (Arnold), Seltzer (McKenzie), Gillingham (Gould).
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