A Charlie Hartley brace as well as goals from Tyrone Scarlett and James Clarke were enough as Manford Way eased past Herongate Athletic in the later kick-off as they kept their promotion hopes alive.
The hosts dominated the majority of the match and scored twice in each half as the visitors struggled to take their chances.
The win for Trevor Grace’s side moved up into third place and two-points off Galleywood, with a game to play, while the visitors remained 11th with a defeat.
Right from the off, Manford controlled the game and were almost ahead in the opening minutes as James Clarke saw his effort rattled the post. The hosts continued to come forward, but couldn’t find the breakthrough, that their pressure deserved. Robbie Rees looked to be in, but the ball bounced away before he could strike at goal.
The pressure paid off a minute later as James Clarke fired Manford ahead as the defender rose above everyone and headed beyond the keeper. The opening goal didn’t change the game as Manford continued to come forward. A corner was flicked on at the far post, but no one could finish it off before Rees saw his free-kick blocked from the edge of the box.
The lead was doubled right at the end of the first half as Tyrone Scarlett poked the ball beyond the keeper from close range. Before the first 45 could end, their was confusion in added time. Lewis Green was penalised for handling the ball outside the box, before the referee changed the offense to a high boot. The keeper was booked, but Manford were awarded a free-kick to the confusion of everyone watching.
Herongate had their best chance of the game right at the start of the second half as the number 9 got his foot to the ball, but his effort was just over the bar. A minute later, he looked to pop the ball beyond the keeper, but Greene pulled off a superb block to deny the forward.
After a shaky start to the second half, Manford gained control against, looking for more goals. Scarlett had a couple as his first shot was poked wide before he tried to curl an effort into the far corner, but his shot was just wide. Clarke also had an effort on goal, but it was wide of the far post.
Charlie Hartley though he had extended the lead, having not been on the pitch very long, as he challenge the keeper for the ball. Although it found its way into the back of the net, the referee ruled it out for offside. The visitors had a rare chance as the forward slid in for a cross, but he wasn’t close enough to tap-home.
As the game approached the final 10-minutes, the hosts looked to finish off the game, guaranteeing them the three points. A good one-two saw William Rees find himself with a shooting opportunity, but the defenders effort was fired over before Hartley was played through, but he sent his effort inches wide of the target. The visitors had another rare chance and their best of the game as a shot rattled the post before Manford were able to clear their lines.
Adewale Adedeji drew a superb save from the keeper as he fired a shot towards goal from outside the box, before Hartley got his goal a minute later. The forward was played through with a quick free-kick and slotted well beyond the keeper. As the clock ticked into the last minute, Hartley found the next once again as he squeezed the ball beyond the keeper from a tight angle, confirming the points for the hosts.
Herongate had a chance in added time, but the effort was fired wide.