Nantwich Town picked up a good point from their promotion battle at Lancaster City in the BetVictor Premier Division, drawing 0-0 to extend their unbeaten run to eight games.
Lancaster had the first chance in the eighth minute when Jack Armer beat three men and hit a shot that Greg Hall saved well. Three minutes later the Dabbers went close when Sean Cooke chipped the ball just wide. The wind and rain at the Giant Axe ground made good football difficult and chances were at a premium.
Seven minutes after the break Hall was called into action again when he made a good save from David Norris. Nantwich went closer still in the 67th minute when Cooke curled a free-kick from the edge of the box against the crossbar. It was the visitors who did most of the pressing in the last ten minutes and they almost snatched a winner in the last minute when Callum Saunders flicked a header to David Webb, but he shot wide when well placed.
The result leaves Nantwich in fifth place with games in hand on all the other clubs in the top seven.
STAFFORD RANGERS remain in trouble at the bottom of the table following a 2-0 defeat at home by Morpeth Town.
And for the second game running, Rangers finished with 10 men after Josh Burns was sent off just before the hour mark following a clash with Morpeth’s Carl Finnigan.
Morpeth benefited from the wind with Rangers struggling to clear their lines but efforts from Liam Henderson and Chris Reid didn’t threaten.
On 15 minutes, Henderson got behind the Rangers back line and although Lewis King did well to make the initial save, Morpeth front man Henderson followed in with a diving header to put the visitors ahead.
Three minutes later, Henderson missed a chance to double the score but scuffed his shot wide.
The second half started with Reid going down in the Rangers area under a challenge from Josh Burns but, rather than award a penalty, the referee cautioned the Morpeth man for a dive.
King saved from close range to deny Henderson before Morpeth went 2-0 up on 56 minutes when Reid headed in at the back post from a free-kick.
Three minutes later, Burns saw red for using an elbow on Finnigan, virtually ending Rangers’ chances.
The defeat leaves Stafford nine points adrift of the guaranteed safety zone, but they have played five more games than fifth-bottom Ashton United.
The big surprise in the South East Division was that LEEK TOWN lost a game, their 2-0 defeat at Ilkeston Town bringing to an end their superb 13 game winning streak and an 18 match unbeaten run.
The Blues had the game’s first chance when Rob Stevenson had a shot deflected for a corner but they fell behind in the sixth minute. The ball was played to the edge of the box and Kole Lambert struck a shot into the far corner giving Danny Roberts no chance.
Leek almost levelled in the 34th minute when Matt Bell’s deflected shot appeared to be looping into the net until keeper Ross Durrant recovered to palm the ball over the bar. Ilkeston doubled their lead in the 70th minute. Joe Maguire hoisted a free-kick into the box which was headed clear but Reece Fyfe volleyed the ball goalwards and when Roberts parried his effort, Lambert tucked home the rebound for his second of the game.
Four minutes later Stevenson had the ball in the Ilkeston net only to be flagged offside.
The result leaves Leek eight points clear at the top having played one more game than second placed Stamford whose game at Carlton Town was postponed.
NEWCASTLE TOWN made it four wins in succession with a hard fought 1-0 victory at Frickley Athletic.
Castle had the chance to take the lead in the 25th minute when a wind assisted ball over the top fell to Ryan McLean but keeper Tom Jackson did well to block his shot.
Ten minutes later Castle went in front. The dangerous McLean again broke clear only for his shot to be well saved by Jackson, but the rebound fell to Keiran Brown and he made no mistake.
Frickley had a chance two minutes before the break when Jacob Hazel hit a long range shot that was well held by Joe Slinn. Castle had a great opportunity to extend their lead in the 65th minute when they were awarded a penalty. McLean was brought down and took the spot-kick himself, only to strike it against the post.
Liam King had the ball in the net for what he thought was an equaliser only for it to be denied for a foul on Slinn. Todd Jordan also had a shot cleared off the line but Newcastle dug deep to take the points.
KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC missed the chance to close the gap on the top five after being held to a controversial 1-1 draw by Market Drayton Town at the Autonet Stadium.
Grove opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Lee Williamson sent over a corner which caused confusion in the visitors’ defence and Oliver Jepson smashed the loose ball past Sam Agius and into the back of the net.
The game’s controversial moment came in the 29th minute. Conor Hughes sent a header goalwards which Kieran Harrison appeared to save on the line but the linesman flagged that the ball had actually been pulled back from behind the line. A goal was given and in the melee that ensued Williamson was shown a straight red card for his protests.
Despite being down to ten men it was Kidsgrove who came close to a second goal when James Butler headed over and Reuben Wiggins-Thomas had a shot saved by Agius.
In the second half Connor Russo lobbed Harrison from 35 yards, but the ball nestled onto the roof of the net. Grove almost claimed the points in the 79th minute when Jepson fired goalwards, but Agius made a good save.
In the North West Counties League, HANLEY TOWN are just two points clear of the bottom after a 3-0 home defeat by Runcorn Town.
Both sides had chances to score in a goalless first half. Hanley almost took the lead in the 51st minute when a goalmouth scramble ended with Declan McGivern heading the ball off the line.
Runcorn broke the deadlock in the 70th minute when Dominic Kurasik failed to gather a free-kick cleanly and McGovern forced the ball home at the far post. They doubled their lead nine minutes later when a cross from Kieran Holsgrove saw substitute Kevin Exell find the net with a diving header. They added a third goal in the final minute when a Holsgrove ball into the box was flicked past Kurasik by Exell.
Hanley have now lost their last four home games without scoring a goal.
In Division One South, ABBEY HULTON UNITED moved seven points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win over Maine Road at Drayton Beaumont Park.
Maine Road came into the game on a run of five games without a win, but they took the lead in the 19th minute through Ryan Eiselt. Three minutes later though, Abbey Hulton were level when Kieran Lazenby scored his 13th goal of the season. Tom Ashton won the game for Abbey in the 64th minute.
Waterlogged pitches caused the games between Ashton Athletic and Congleton Town, Eccleshall and Sandbach United and Wythenshawe Town and Alsager Town to be postponed.
BROCTON cemented their second place in the Midland League Division One table with a 5-2 victory at Paget Rangers.
The game was played on the artificial surface at the home of Sutton Coldfield Town, where Paget share the facilities. The Badgers took a fourth-minute lead when Regan Smith sent over a cross that Declan Arber converted from close range. Three minutes later it was 2-0 when Dan Lomas thumped a free-kick straight into the net.
Leading scorer Smith made it 3-0 in the 17th minute when he headed home his 33rd goal of the season. He came close to another goal before the interval when he hit the post with a free-kick.
The one-way traffic continued four minutes after the break when Jack Arrowsmith headed home from a corner. Smith then hit the bar before Paget pulled a goal back in the 68th minute through substitute Christian Henry.
Two minutes later Arrowsmith made it 5-1 with another header from a corner. Daniel Elwell scored another goal for Paget in the 72nd minute but that was the end of the scoring.
STAFFORD TOWN remain four points adrift at the bottom following a 3-2 defeat at Cadbury Athletic despite leading for an hour.
Stafford took the lead in the 12th minute when a teasing cross from Harry Bowers was diverted into the net by a Cadbury defender.
Stafford had chances to increase their lead before half-time and there were no real alarms until the home side drew level in the 72nd minute. A corner came over and Daniel Dineen headed it past Leyton Orient loanee Sam Amedu.
Ten minutes later Cadbury went in front when substitute Joel Ayettey volleyed the ball into the net. Stafford thought they were on for a point in the 84th minute when Bowers played the ball on to Owen Turner and he headed them level. Less than a minute later though, Cadbury won it when Ayettey netted his second of the game.
Rocester’s scheduled home game with Ashby Ivanhoe was postponed as their Hillsfield ground was still partly under water from the ravages of Storm Dennis so they played a friendly at Sandbach United instead, going down 3-2.
Uttoxeter Town’s big promotion battle at home to leaders Leicester Road was also postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.