Oakham United will travel to Pinchbeck hoping to pick up another three points on the back of an “ugly win” against 10-man Sawtry on Saturday.
The Rutlanders are only a point behind the Lincolnshire side at the bottom end of the Chromasport and Trophies Peterborough League Premier Division.
Oakham player manager Wayne Oldaker said it wasn’t the greatest performance but they won under what he called added pressures.
These included tiredness from a midweek game, the pressure of possibly failing to beat a 10-man team and even a spat with rival teams on Twitter which he had to address before the game.
He said he had to remind players to tweet a bit sensibly.
Oakham were boosted by the signing of former UCL player Michael Nelson who started on the subs bench but came on to score the winner.
Oldaker said: “It was a lack-lustre performance. Maybe a bit of tiredness had crept in as we are a small squad but they did show real character to dig in, come from behind and grind out that win.
“Sawtry are a good side and will finish in the top half so it was a good result for us.”
Sawtry were down to 10 men after 20 minutes when Oakham’s Jamie Forbes got involved with a bit of shirt pulling with Craig Smith and the pair ended up on the floor.
Oldaker said it was handbags at dawn and both could have been given a yellow but when the Sawtry player got up he kicked Forbes and the referee sent him packing.
Sometimes losing a player, however, galvanises a team and Sawtry took the game to Oakham.
The goals, nevertheless, didn’t come until the second half. Sawtry scored first from a penalty after a clumsy challenge by Craig Welbourn.
Steve Smith then levelled for Oakham after heading in from a corner.
Then with 25 minutes to go Nelson came off the bench to snatch the winner five minutes later.
Forbes intercepted a Sawtry pass, shrugged off one challenge, beat two players and then, as the defence approached on the edge of the box, slid the ball to Nelson on the left. He let the ball roll across his body and lashed a shot in off the post, giving the keeper no chance.
Oldaker said it was an “ugly win” but they were happy to collect the points.
He said: “We’ve been working on set-pieces as they are so vital and I was pleased we scored off a corner. I hope it proves to the lads their hard work is paying off.
“Michael Nelson has got goals in him and his work rate is infectious. He hasn’t played since May and was a bit rusty but getting the goal is a dream start for him.
“Michael has come in but he will have to earn his place. No-one is walking into this team and if you get an injury you will start back in the reserves and get your match fitness. That’s the proper way to do it.”
Oakham remain third from the bottom on eight points but there are only four points between them and 10th.
They are away to Pinchbeck on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.