By JOHN CHUBB
In the Isthmian Premier League East Thurrock United earned three points on the road for the fourth time this season as they won by a goal to nil at Margate, the only goal of the game coming from Frankie Merrifield 13 minutes from time.
Rocks are still 8th but now within three points of the play-off places.
But Rob Small’s 300th match in charge ended in disappointment for Bowers & Pitsea who were beaten 2-1 by visitors Cray Wanderers.
Bowers led at half-time thanks to Brad Warner’s 32nd minute penalty.
But the visitors levelled through Joseph Taylor on 64 minutes before ex-Braintree Town midfielder Rhys Murrell-Williamson – making his debut for Cray after joining them from the Iron – grabbed the winner with a couple of minutes to spare.
Bowers are still in 17th place.
In the Isthmian North Maldon & Tiptree are still unbeaten, although it was only a 63rd minute Lance Akins goal that separated them and hosts Great Wakering Rovers at Burroughs Park.
The 1-0 win meant the Jammers stay top of the division by a four-point margin, whilst Rovers are seventh and only a point away from the play-off pack.
With Aveley in FA Trophy action Heybridge Swifts moved up to second place with a 1-0 win against Bury Town at Scraley Road.
Evans Kouassi’s goal three minutes into the second half gave them the win although Aveley will return to the runners-up spot if they win their home match tomorrow night (Monday), also against the Suffolk club.
Tilbury forced their way into the play-off positions with a fine 2-0 win away to AFC Sudbury.
Ola Ogunwamide (18 minutes) and David Knight (in the final minute) were the scorers for the Dockers, who are now fifth.
Also winning away from home were Hullbridge Sports who are in 12th spot after their 1-0 triumph at Soham Town Rangers, Joseph Wright finding the net just after the hour mark.
Sports ended the match with ten men as Andre Gumbs received a second yellow card just before the final whistle.
That meant Coggeshall Town dropped to sixth place in the standings after their goalless draw at 18th-placed Basildon United.
That proved to be the Bees’ final match with Kris Newby as manager, as he has left the club after just four matches at the helm.
Newby’s departure was apparently due to financial issues, with the club’s major sponsor having reportedly withdrawn its financial backing.
Burnham Ramblers manager and ex-Basildon player Alex Salmon has today been announced as Newby’s successor.
Elsewhere in the North section 10th-placed Canvey Island slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Dereham Town at Park Lane in the dying seconds of the match.
Rob Lacey gave the Gulls the lead six minutes into the second half.
But Robbie Linford levelled seven minutes afterwards and with five minutes of stoppage time played, a Ryan Crisp header saw three points go back to Norfolk.
Witham Town beat Grays Athletic 1-0 at home with Oliver Emsden scoring the only goal of the game just before the interval.
Witham are 14th whilst Grays – now without a win in five – are down to 11th.
Brentwood Town picked up another useful point as they continued their fight to move away from the bottom part of the table.
The Blues are in 16th place after a 1-1 draw at home to Histon.
The visitors were awarded a penalty after 18 minutes which was converted by Max York.
But early in the second half Brentwood’s Temi Babalola was fouled inside the box.
This time the home team were given a spot-kick, and Babalola got himself up to put it in the net.
Despite many personnel changes on the playing side and owner/manager Glenn Tamplin’s ambitious plans, Romford remain in a precarious position.
The Boro are still eight points adrift at the foot of the North section – though with games in hand – after a 1-0 defeat away to Cambridge City, with the only goal coming from Nathan Olukanmi after 64 minutes.
In the South Central Division Waltham Abbey stay in fourth spot despite losing 3-2 at home to Bedfont Sports.
Lucas Sinclair put the visitors in front just before the quarter of an hour mark before Nathan Wood doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half.
Abbey scored three minutes later through Leonne McKenzie but both sides were reduced to ten men not long afterwards, with Sinclair and the home side’s Mark Twumasi being shown red cards.
The Abbots equalised in the 70th minute through Billy Holland but then had Junior Appiah sent off, reducing them to 9 men.
Then Max Oldham scored four minutes from time to give Bedfont three points.
Barking kept hold of seventh place after two goals in the last five minutes saw them beat Northwood 2-1 at Mayesbrook Park.
The struggling Middlesex outfit had led through Matthew Hall’s 52nd minute goal before Michael Dixon and Junior Dadson’s late strikes gave the Blues all three points.
What had looked like a serious promotion challenge during the first half of the season must currently seem like a distant memory for Harlow Town.
The Hawks are now down to 10th place after crashing to a 3-0 loss away to Chertsey Town, for whom Jake Baxter (with a brace) and Lubo Guentchev were both on target.