Oakham United manager Wayne Oldaker did not quite get the present he wanted for Christmas this year as his team could only muster a lackluster 0-0 draw with PDFL Premier Division top four rivals Stilton.
Coates Athletic will spend Christmas at to the top of the tree in the PDFL Premier Division.
Goals from Matt Heron and Luke Hipwell delivered a 2-1 win at Holbeach Reserves on Saturday to leave Coates three points clear at the top.
Second-placed Oakham, who have two games in hand on the leaders, could not break down the highly organised defence of fourth-placed Stilton, while third-placed Netherton United were cruising to a 3-0 win at Thorney.
The Peterborough side are nine points behind Coates, but have four games in hand. Jake Sansby, Stephen Mastin and Tom Randall scored the Netherton goals at Thorney.
Oldaker said: “Ideally we would have liked to have taken four points out of the last two games but nevertheless at least we got something out of the game.
“It was very lackluster. Too many of our players were not at the races on Saturday. It doesn’t happen very often but it was disappointing to finish the year like that after it has been so good.
“I hope it doesn’t fall apart now because that would be a real shame.
“There are plenty of twists and turns left in the title fight yet. Coates are still favourites and Stilton and Netherton are up there.
“There are a lot of teams in this league capable of winning games and causing an upset. We are proof of that. At the start of the season no one gave us a chance and they still aren’t really. The goal at the start of the year was to finish top six, now who knows.
“But if you had told me at the start of the season that at Christmas we would have been sandwiched between Coates and Netherton I would have laughed at you.”
While Oakham had a rare off day on Saturday they still had their chances. New signing Lewis Leckie impressed on his debut, making chances out of nothing and going closest all afternoon for the Rutland side with a shot that hit the post.
His new manager described the striker affectionately as a little powerful pitbull.
However Leckie’s introduction up front caused Oakham to switch their style of play which acted to their detriment on Saturday.
With Leckie providing legitimate pace his new team mates tried to find him with balls behind the Stilton defence but with a strong wind blowing they were over hit far too often and ran on.
Stilton were lucky to finish the game with a full compliment of players after a terrible tackle was only awarded a yellow card.
Oldaker said while he never wants to see a player sent off it was a potentially game changing decision and he described the tackle as a potential career-ender.
He concluded: “January is a very tough time. But the end of January we will know where we are. Whether we are playing catch up a bit or whether we are still right in the mix.” Next up for Oakham are Sawtry on January 3.