Shirebrook emphasised their continuing improvement under Rudy Funk by defeating fourth placed Askern Villa 2-1.
Shirebrook, without Michael Lyall and Mark Robinson, bolstered the side with the return of striker Pete Stubley and new signing Chris Rhodes.
The first action came after just eight minutes, Richard Guest booked for a rash challenge on Askern captain Mark Vickerage which put him out of the game. Simon Johnson followed Guest into the book five minutes later as the game struggled to come to life.
Indeed it wasn’t until the final 10 minutes of the half that things started to change when Stubley carved out an opening for Steve McGurk, the defender’s rasping drive collected by Hernandez at the second attempt.
Shirebrook went in front on 38 minutes through a neat turn and clinical finish from Pete Stubley after good approach work from Simon Johnson.
Adam Wisdom wasted a glorious chance to bring the visitors level almost immediately, his edge of the box drive flying well over the bar.
Johnson saw his effort fizz past the far post after 50 minutes as Shirebrook looked to increase their lead.
Johnson provided the ammunition again on 51 minutes. Chasing a loose ball down the right flank, he dispossessed Josh Gibbons and wriggled past another defender before delivering a pinpoint cross which Darren Bettison headed past the outstretched Hernandez.
Wisdom then bought a superb save out of Ed Eley, the loose ball fell to Ferguson but a perfect sliding challenge by Guest snuffed out the danger.
Ferguson became the fourth player to be booked after a late challenge on Martin Rowbotham on the hour mark.
Askern continued to play their part and both Wisdom and Ferguson went close.
Johnson had two chances to put the game to bed, his first was cleared after rounding the keeper and then his low drive went narrowly wide of the far post. Then Johnson was denied by the legs of Hernadez after being sent clear by Chris Rhodes.
Askern pulled a goal back on 75 minutes, from a corner. The ball dropped to Jay Rollins on the edge of the box and his shot flew through a group of players and into the net.
Ed Eley made a fantastic one- handed save from Luke Atkinson’s goalbound effort as Askern pushed for an equaliser.
More drama in the dying minutes saw Askern awarded a contentious penalty after Rowbotham was adjudged to have clipped Rollins in the box. Ferguson stepped up and smashed the spot kick against the bar.
Bettison could have made it safe, racing from inside his own half, but his shot was turned around by the onrushing Hernandez.
Shirebrook Town: Eley, Mclane, Davey, Rowbotham, McGurk, Draper, Bettison, Bowring (Rhodes 65), Johnson, Stubley (Clarke 75), Guest. Subs not used: Whalley, Hamstead, White.
Askern Villa: Hernandez, Atkinson, Gibbons, Knifton, Garner, Pugh, Rollins, Vickerage (Cotton 8), Ferguson, Wisdom (Thornton 70), McLaughlin.
Referee: Mr Colin Barraclough of Lincolnshire.
Shirebrook Man of the Match: Pete Stubley.