Striker Shaun Smith bagged one of the most precious goals of the season against his former club to tighten Sherwood Colliery’s grip on the title race.
Smith pounced in the tenth minute for what proved be the only goal of Sherwood’s crucial top-of-the-table clash away to second-placed Hucknall Town.
The 1-0 win extended Sherwood’s lead to nine points with five games to play in the Central Midlands League’s South Division and also stretched their remarkable unbeaten season to 23 matches.
It now looks as if the only team who can possibly catch them are Eastwood Community, who are fully 18 points behind but do have six games in hand. The two teams are also scheduled to play each other in the final fixture of the campaign, at Debdale Park, on Saturday, May 12.
The pulling power of Sherwood was reflected in the fact that Saturday’s match drew the biggest crowd of the season, 278, at the home of one-time non-league giants Hucknall.
But the Yellows fans were stunned into silence when Smith, who was transferred to Sherwood earlier in the season, received the ball in the box after a poor clearance and weaved his way round a host of defenders before striking a shot past goalkeeper Michael Randall and into the bottom corner.
The rest of the first half was even, with Hucknall sorely missing their star players, Sam Sims and David Leak, and Sherwood comfortably shrugging off the hosts’ attacks.
Hucknall sprang to life in the second half with the introduction of substitute Jack Smith, signed earlier in the week from Eastwood. But although they enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, they couldn’t find a way through.
The closest the home side came to an equaliser was when Devante Reittie scraped the post with a half-volley from outside the box, and the final whistle brought a thunderous roar from the Sherwood dugout.