Aylesbury FC’s title chances were all but ended by a narrow 1-0 defeat in a top-of-the-table clash with leaders Kettering Town on Saturday.
The Moles sat five points behind Kettering at the start of play, but Brett Solkhon’s 54th minute goal was enough to earn the Poppies victory and move them eight points clear.
Aylesbury remain third and firmly inside the play-off places in Division One Central of the Southern League.
There was doubt during the week that the game would even go ahead and it was credit to the ground staff that the pitch was passed playable, but the heavy surface was counterproductive to two attacking teams who like to play football with pace.
Tommy Hull on the Kettering right created the first chance on seven minutes but his cross to Josh Moorman was fired wide, while Bradley Wadkins excelled for the visitors and he caused danger with a low cross that was well cleared.
Town were back on the attack with striker Dubi Ogbonna having his shot blocked by Kyle Anthony before FC enjoyed a spell on top and they came closest to scoring in the first half when Wadkins found space in the penalty area but his low shot was well saved by Poppies keeper Richard Knight.
Moments later, Jeanmal Prosper and Wadkins combined well to play in Brian Haule, who just failed to connect, before Elliot Sandy threatened for the home side but the half ended goalless.
The match was intriguingly-poised going into the second period with FC’s Aston Goss again probing, but it was then at the other end where the decisive moment of the match arrived.
A needlessly conceded free kick on the right hand side was floated in and defender Solkhon side-footed the ball in at close-range, giving James Weatherill no chance with the FC defence ball watching.
As FC attempted to haul themselves back onto the match, Prosper and Davis Haule continued their good link up work from the first half but again crosses failed to trouble the home defenders. James Jepson then tested Weatherill with a fine effort before Sandy forced the visiting keeper into a low shot, and the Moles were then dealt a hammer blow when captain Ben Stevens suffered a serious injury.
The resulting shake-up left gaps at the back as Aylesbury pushed forward and these were exposed with Weatherill denying Dubi Ogbonna when one-on-one.
In injury-time, FC had perhaps their clearest cut chance of the whole second half when a quality Danny Murphy corner was met by a rising Brian Haule, however his header flashed wide of the post for what was the last action of the match as the home side held on for a vital three points.
Aylesbury are away to St Ives Town this weekend, followed by a trip to second from bottom AFC Hayes next Tuesday.