Brackley Town are not yet out of the race for Vanarama National League play-offs following a 2-1 success at FC United of Manchester.
Jimmy Armson bagged the winner as Saints extended their winning run on the road to ten games.
With just three games left, Saints kept up the pressure after their rivals dropped points and fourth-placed Darlington 1883 were ruled ineligible to contest the play-offs.
Saints came away from Manchester fully deserving of the three points. After a one-sided first half, the visitors took a one-goal lead into a more evenly contested second period and emerged with the win despite some nervy final minutes.
A bright and breathless start by Saints penned United back. A fine sweeping move brought Ellis Myles into play on the right but from his cross Armson fired over before keeper Ryan Schofield had to get his body behind Steve Diggin’s fierce shot.
Lee Ndlovu miscued when well placed and moments later United somehow cleared from a goalmouth scramble after good work by Ndlovu.
The breakthrough came through captain Gareth Dean’s 34th minute header, his fourth league goal of the season, steering the ball low past Schofield from Diggin’s well-judged cross.
Ndlovu’s effort was ruled out for offside after a delightful passage of play as the half ended with United failing to trouble keeper Laurie Walker.
United’s first attempt on target came on the hour mark as Dale Tonge’s header was well gathered by Walker while their first shot on target was the equaliser from the penalty spot, Nathan Lowe finding the corner of the net after Tomi Adeloye had been felled in the 68th minute.
But Saints struck back within two minutes as Alex Gudger’s cross was despatched into the net by Armson’s stooping header. Saints spurned further chances while United rarely threatened but five minutes of added-time had to be navigated before the points were secure.
Next up are relegation-threatened Gainsborough Trinity at St James Park on Monday and boss Kevin Wilkin knows the importance of getting another three points to keep the play-off dream alive.
He said: “We deserved the win but we were wasteful in not taking more of our chances.
“It’s an exciting time with three games remaining and we have a chance but it’s frustrating also because we should be up there. However, our run of results and events elsewhere keep the door open for us.
“There are lots of permutations still but whatever happens with other teams we have to keep winning our games to keep the pressure on the others.”