Carshalton Athletic have become experts in the art of scoring late winners this season, and another last night at Herne Bay- coupled with a loss for Greenwich Borough- meant that they went to the top of the South Division and can clinch promotion with victory over Whyteleafe on Saturday. The Rooks of Lewes can get to the promised land even earlier, as three points against Horsham at the Dripping Pan TONIGHT will get them firmly over the line- and back in the Premier Division after two seasons away.
All eyes last night were on the DGS Marine Stadium, where fourth place Greenwich Borough were entertaining Thamesmead Town. A home victory would have meant that the Cannons still had a mathematical chance of going up automatically, but one point from the last nine now means they'll have to go through the playoffs once more- although qualification for the end of season lottery is not yet assured. Nassim Dukali gave them the lead, but Danny Parish and Bode Anidugbe turned the game on its head to give Mead all of the points.
The Robins were at Herne Bay, and took the lead through Raheem Sterling-Parker ten minutes before the break, but an equaliser from Jake Embery with twenty minutes remaining meant that they looked like having to be content with a point. Once again, however, Carshalton didn't rest, and a minute before the end Christie Pattison popped up to seal a famous victory and put the Robins on the brink of promotion.
At the other end of the table, Shoreham are now within a whisker of going in the opposite direction, a 3-0 home defeat to Guernsey meaning that they are fourteen points behind second-bottom Molesey with only five games remaining. Molesey host VCD Athletic on Saturday knowing that they only have to match the Musselmen's result at Hastings United to send the Sussex club back to the Southern Combination Football League. A double from Harry Tobin and one from Ryan Zico-Black saw the Green Lions to victory last night.
In the Premier Division it was a great night for Billericay Town- even without them actually having a game- as three of their promotion rivals crashed to defeat. Dulwich Hamlet could have closed to within three points with victory, but a spirited Tonbridge Angels performance at Imperial Fields put paid to that. Alex Akrofi and Sam Bantick gave Angels a 2-0 half time lead, and although Nathan Green got one back just before full time the points went back to Longmead.
Fourth place Hendon travelled about as far as they could without falling into the sea, turning up at struggling Lowestoft Town, and the Trawlerboys did themselves a power of good, earning a 2-1 victory which lifts them four points clear of bottom side Tooting & Mitcham United. Harvey Hodd gave them the lead just before half time, and although Zak Joseph quickly equalised a goal from Renei Batlokwa snatched all three points for the home side. Margate, in fifth, entertained a Kingstonian side who have an away record bettered only by Dulwich Hamlet and Billericay Town, and Leigh Dynan's side performed on the road once more, a goal in each half from Muhammadu Faal and Jason Williams allowing them to take the points back to Surrey. Leiston were the beneficiaries, closing to within three points of Gate- with a game in hand- with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Harrow Borough, Joe Jefford, Christy Finch and Jack Ainsley with the goals.
At the bottom of the table Burgess Hill Town had the chance to lift themselves three points clear of Tooting & Mitcham United with victory over an inconsistent Enfield Town, but they remain ahead of the Terrors only on goal difference as Town left with a 4-2 victory, particularly due to a Simon Thomas hat trick. Dernell Wynter gave the away side the lead, Lee Harding continued his recent good form with an equaliser, but Thomas then created a gap which Jack Brivio could only narrow slightly.
The North Division saw Bowers & Pitsea close to within two points of second place Potters Bar Town in the battle of 'who goes up with the Urchins.' Bowers had to do it the hard way, coming from behind at home to Dereham Town, for whom Dan Beaumont found the net in the seventh minute. Lewis Manor equalised just after the half hour, and Ben Sartain gave them the lead, but it looked like one point each after Sam Borer equalised five minutes after the break. In the last minute, however, Manor made the decisive move, scoring a goal which earned the home side all three points before being sent off- apparently for violent conduct.
Haringey Borough are three points behind Bowers and will hope that they can still snatch second spot the way that they snatched all three points last night. Derek Asamoah continued their recent excellent run with the only goal at Tilbury.
Heybridge Swifts are sixth, two points ahead of neighbours Maldon & Tiptree with two matches in hand, and they recorded a fairly straightforward 3-0 win at Soham Town Rangers, a first half own goal being added to by Harrison Chatting and Luke Callander. The Jammers also won, coming from behind at home to Barking with three goals from Lee Barnard, Joe Ellul and Ryan Clampin- JJ Da Cruz scored for the away side.
Finally, Aveley travelled to Hertford Town and recorded an impressive 3-0 victory, inclusing a late double from birthday boy Alex Teniola. Myles Keizer-Burrows have given James Webster's side a first half lead.
As well as Lewes having the chance of promotion tonight, we have the small matter of the Velocity Trophy Final- go HERE for details- a relegation six pointer in the North Division between Romford and Norwich United, and a match between Hythe Town and Sittingbourne which could see the home side leap into the South Division playoff places.