Stamford Lions started the new year in winning form by beating defending Peterborough League champions Peterborough Sports Reserves 3-0 to move into second spot in the Premier Division table.
The two high-flying sides went into the match knowing a win would earn them right to chase leaders Moulton Harrox and title favourites Netherton who sit in fourth place but have two games in hand.
And Lions boss James Sheehan was delighted with the crucial victory ahead of a tricky run of fixtures for his side who visit Leverington this weekend.
Sheehan said: “It was a vital win. We knew coming into the game that only maximum points were good enough.
“It’s great to start the year with three points. We set a good tempo in our play and maintained it through the 90 minutes which was pleasing and the lads fully deserved the win.”
“With so many difficult and tricky games in this league it’s hard to predict so I’m not going to try.
“We are not looking too far forward. We want to win our next game, concentrate on our form and see where it can take us.”
The Lions came flying out of the traps on Saturday and with just over five minutes on the clock Tom Edwards rifled in a shot from 25 yards out that flew into the top corner to give the Stamford side a vital lead.
The Lions were on top and were looking to double their advantage as Neil Speck sent a header just wide from six yards out before Rob Forster miscued a shot when a chance opened up to him.
Dan Aust crashed a shot into the side netting and Edwards was denied a second goal by a fine save before centre-half Shaun Sanderson was ushered from the field after a nasty clash of heads left him dizzy.
As Stamford reshuffled their defence the Peterborough side took advantage and slick passing opened up the rearguard but a quick response from keeper John Swales smothered the close range shot.
The home side were in debt to Swales again just before the break when an excellent double save kept Sports at bay, the first at full stretch he clawed the ball wide before he bravely charged down a forceful strike as the Peterborough side finished the half the stronger.
Lions regained their dominance after the break and played on the front foot looking to pen back their visitors.
Rob Montgomery headed in an Edwards free kick and Lions thought they had the second goal but an offside flag ruled it out.
Edwards then suffered the same fate as he raced away from the defence and slotted past the keeper but the goal was chalked off as the offside flag went up.
Lions were growing frustrated as they failed to find a second goal while Sports remained dangerous on the break.
Aust was forced into a last-ditch tackle to prevent a goalscoring opportunity from a fast Sports counter attack before Swales again was quick off his line to clear a piercing through ball.
With just a quarter of an hour to play, Luke Ball was played in by a perfectly-weighted Edwards pass and, as the flag stayed down, the Lions’ top scorer calmly lifted his shot over the keeper and secured the second goal.
The two goal cushion changed the dynamics of the game as Sports were now forced onto the front foot in an all-out attacking formation.
This exposed the Peterborough defence and now it was Lions looking dangerous on the counter-attack.
Tom Lees was denied by a fine save and Danny Sheehan blazed over from close range before teenage midfielder Josh Collins raced into the area and smashed a low shot into the bottom corner to seal an impressive 3-0 victory for the Stamford side.