Tilbury striker Alex Read maintained his unstoppable form as his side won a crucial game in the play-off battle on Saturday. His two goals took his haul to ten in four games and earned Dockers a 2-1 victory at Brentwood, who stay in ninth place and find themselves eight points short of the play-off places. Daniel Ailey gave Brentwood a 12th-minute lead but Read equalised with a free-kick in the 33rd minute and converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time after he had himself been fouled. Brentwood’s misery deepened when Peggy Lokando was sent off in the second half. Dockers stay fourth on what was a big day for the top five, who all won while their pursuers all slipped up.
There was no change in the situation at the top as Leiston stayed four points clear of Enfield Town with a 2-1 home win over Waltham Abbey. The visitors took a surprise lead through Adam Bolle in the 11th minute but Luke Hammond replied moments later and his corner was headed home by Leon Ottley-Gooch just before the half-hour for what proved to be the winner, though the Abbotts were a little unlucky to gain no reward for a spirited second half.
It was easier for Enfield, who thrashed Ilford 5-0 to dump the Foxes back into the bottom two. Leon Osei opened their account in the 16th minute, Liam Hope added a penalty and Michael Ewang made it 3-0 at the break. Hope struck again with 20 minutes left, passing Needham’s Sam Newson to become the division’s top scorer with 22 league goals, and Tyler Campbell finished it off.
Needham themselves stayed three points clear of Tilbury in third place, letting a 2-0 lead slip at Potters Bar before edging home 3-2 thanks to a Joe O’Brien own goal. Duane Wright put the Marketmen ahead on 13 minutes and Angelo Harrop doubled the lead nine minutes after the break. The Scholars, with their play-off hopes fast fading, pulled one back in the 64th minute through James Gershfield and Reece Loudon’s free-kick squared it with 12 minutes left only for O’Brien’s mishap to provide Needham with their 96th league goal of the season two minutes later.
Grays remain a point behind Tilbury in fifth place after coming from behind to win 2-1 at bottom club Ware. In a far closer contest than the league table would have predicted, Ware went ahead with a Grant Cooper own goal after 19 minutes. Lee Flynn’s deflected free-kick levelled it before half-time and Jake Hall nabbed the winner eight minutes into the second half. Grays’ day was marred when their experienced midfielder Kenny Beaney received a second yellow card in the closing stages.
Sudbury and Redbridge dealt a blow to each other’s hopes with a 1-1 draw in Suffolk. The Motormen should have had all three points after James Robinson gave them a 20th-minute lead. He later hit the bar with a penalty and the hosts punished him when Nathan Clarke equalised in the 88th minute. So Sudbury stay sixth, now three points behind Grays, while Motormen move up to seventh, three further points back but with a game in hand in all the sides above them.
Harlow are a point further back and they, too have a game in hand which is, in fact, a vital home match against Redbridge on Tuesday. The Hawks were beaten 2-1 at mid-table Romford, conceding an 82nd-minute winner to Kurt Smith two minutes after drawing level with a Mark Taylor penalty. Boro had initially taken the lead with a Jack Barry header on the stroke of half-time.
Great Wakering moved out of the relegation zone with a 2-2 home draw against Cheshunt but will be annoyed that they failed to take full points. Lewis Sparrow gave Wakering a good start with a fifth-minute strike but Sam Ruff replied two minutes before the break. Jack Carlile missed a penalty for the home side, who regained the lead through Dan Williams in the 65th minute. Cheshunt then had Jordan Lumsden sent off but the ten men earned a penalty in added time and Josh Hutchinson made no mistake.
Soham took to the field for the first time under new manager Steve Fallon, who previously masterminded Histon’s rise from the Eastern Counties League to the Conference Premier play-offs, and battled out a 0-0 draw at Waltham Forest. It looked as if the outcome would be the same at Heybridge until Frazer Walker headed a 90th-minute winner for Thamesmead. Chatham and Maldon drew 1-1, with Joe Fuller giving Chats a 15th minute lead which Sos Yao wiped out midway through the second half.