Bradford Park Avenue won for the third time in four games with a hard fought 1-0 victory at Alfreton Town.
Oli Johnson capitalised on a Terry Kennedy mistake in the first half to grab the only goal of the game, before goalkeeper Jon Worsnop saved a second half penalty from Craig Westcarr.
It was Alfreton’s first home defeat in thirteen games, and just Bradford’s third clean sheet of the season as Mark Bower’s men opened up a nine point gap between themselves and the relegation places.
The game got off to a slow start as both sides got used to the windy conditions on the slope at Alfreton’s North Street.
Mark Shelton skewed a volley well off target before Wes Atkinson struck a long way wide as the hosts pressed in the first 20 minutes.
However Avenue grew into the game and Wayne Brooksby, playing the last game of his loan spell at the club, saw an effort blocked before Oli Johnson couldn’t get a clean header on the follow-up.
Brooksby then came even closer, forcing home stopper Fabian Spiess into a smart save low to his right from a powerful effort by the winger.
But after a good spell of pressure, Bradford broke the deadlock thanks to a defensive error by Kennedy.
The central defender attempted a back header from the halfway line, which he underhit and with Johnson gambling, he latched onto the loose ball going one-on-one with Spiess.
The in-form striker showed good composure to round the goalkeeper, control the ball and slot into the unguarded goal for his fifth goal in his last eight appearances.
Avenue were well on top and after Johnson flicked a Hibbs cross well over the bar, Spiess then made another excellent stop.
The away side had a free kick on the right which Nicky Wroe delivered deep and James Knowles headed towards the bottom corner only for the goalkeeper to get down and save well.
As the halt time whistle approached Bradford found themselves on the end of two hairy moments as Worsnop looked slightly unsure in the away goal.
Firstly, he fumbled an Atkinson shot with the ball somehow slipping just past the post, then he was slow to react as Sam Smith headed the ball across goal, but Shelton could only find the side-netting with his effort.
After the break, the home side meant business and were denied by Worsnop within five minutes of the restart.
Right back Jordan Richards got in behind and his powerful hit towards the near post was parried away by the Bradford keeper.
Alfreton had three corners in the space of two minutes but couldn’t make anything of them and Bradford came ever so close to a second on the break.
It was a really good move from the away team as Johnson found Wroe before the captain played a clever ball across to Gavin Rothery who worked the space for a shot, which he curled just wide of the top corner.
Richards and Shelton both fired over for the home side before Shane Killock blocked a Westcarr shot as Avenue stood firm to a lot of Alfreton pressure.
Then with 73 minutes on the clock, the home side were presented with a prime opportunity when the referee pointed to the spot, Knowles the culprit as he committed a rather innocuous foul just inside the corner of the box.
Up stepped Westcarr, but his low effort to Worsnop’s left was excellently kept out, Matt Hill following in to clear the danger on the follow up.
Alfreton looked out of ideas and didn’t create much from there, with Bradford the only side creating any clear cut chances and they should have made it two with just three minutes left on the clock.
Brooksby played a brilliant pass in behind the home defence, sending Johnson clear on goal. He faced up to Spiess and shot low across goal, his effort slipping just the wrong side of the upright.
Avenue had another chance to seal it deep into injury time when more good work from Johnson saw him get to the by-line before cutting back, his pass evading everyone before finding its way to Jake Hibbs, but his shot was blocked away.
However victory was Avenue’s and three points moved them level with their hosts on 40, Gainsborough’s defeat to Chorley meaning they now sit nine points behind Bower’s men with just five games to play.
Alfreton Town: Spiess, Richards, Wilson, Kennedy, McGowan, Monkhouse (c, Hearn 85), Shelton, Atkinson (Heaton 90), Westcarr, S.Smith, McFadzean (Marshall 88)
Subs not used: Wright, Jordan
Bookings: McFadzean (23), Monkhouse (33)
Bradford Park Avenue: Worsnop, Hibbs, Hill, Wroe (c), Killock, Knowles, Brooksby, D.Boshell, Johnson, Nowakowski, Rothery (Sharp 74)
Subs not used: Toulson, Hall, Chippendale, Payne
Goal: Johnson (36)
Bookings: Hill (27), Brooksby (45), Nowakowski (69)
Referee: Peter Gibbons