Spennymoor Town 2 Brackley 1.

Spennymoor kept their nerve to go joint third in the Vanarama National League North with this victory over their fellow play off chasers.

Moors were criticised by manager Jason Ainsley for folding so alarmingly at Ashton United in their previous game, but they held their nerve in the second half to record their first ever win over Brackley in four attempts.

The result put them level in joint third on points with Brackley with a worse goal difference, and seven points ahead of eighth placed Blyth. Moors will be assured of a play off place if they win at York on Friday afternoon, and as things stand, they will be at home to seventh placed Telford in the play off qualifying round, but a third-place finish will give them exemption from that.

However, they had to recover from a needless penalty given away by keeper Mattie Gould just on the half time whistle.

A relieved Ainsley said; “They were a massive three points considering whom we were playing against, and that our energy levels were back.

“We could have folded after we conceded the equaliser on half time. We’d scored just before and everyone was on a high, but suddenly the dressing room was deflated after Brackley scored from the penalty that shouldn’t have been given away, and we had to pick everybody up and dig deep for the second half.

“I thought Mark Anderson made a big difference when he came on midway through the second half, and he was involved in the move for the winning goal, and near the end Mattie Gould made a couple of decent saves when Brackley were piling on the pressure.

“That was a big performance against a very good outfit who were hoping to catch the top two, and now we’ve given ourselves a strong chance of a play off place, which was our aim at the start of the season. It’s a good job we won, because Altrincham, Blyth and Kidderminster all won to keep the pressure on for the play offs.

“It was a good morale-boosting win. Now we’re looking confidently ahead to our last three league games, and hopefully get into third place.”

Brackley caused problems for Moors early on, and Lee Ndlovu’s pace took him through the home defence, but keeper Mattie Gould saved well at his feet.

But for a long period, both sides cancelled each other out, and it wasn’t until Moors had their first real sight of goal that they took the lead on 43 minutes.

Rob Ramshaw did well to find Glen Taylor, who in turn set up Ryan Hall to fire past Daniel Lewis in the Brackley goal.

But within two minutes, Brackley were level when Ndlovu again got away from the Moors defence, and he was needlessly brought down by Gould running away from goal after the keeper had parried a harmless shot to the striker’s feet. The referee pointed to the spot, from where Shane Byrne easily beat the keeper.

Brackley nearly went back in front soon after the restart when once again Ndlovu’s pace took him away from the Moors defence, but the striker stumbled with just Gould to beat.

Brackley had another chance when Ellis Myles’ shot was blocked, and Jimmy Armson’s follow up was cleared off the line by defender Rob Atkinson.

Ndlovu kept his feet when he had a shooting opportunity but Gould saved low down.

The introduction of Mark Anderson after a month out through injury was a big factor in the last quarter of the game, and his energy lifted Moors.

They held on against the onslaught, and regained the lead on 76 minutes when Stephen Brogan, on his return to the side after illness, combined well with Jack Diamond and Mark Anderson on the left and found Glen Taylor, who fired his 23rd league goal of the season.

It was nearly 3-1 when Anderson fired just over the top, but Gould had to make a late save from Omari Sterling-James to protect the win.

Moors’ next game is at York City on Friday afternoon, kick off 3pm.

Moors: Gould, Williams, Curtis, Atkinson, Brogan, Henry, Hawkins, (sub Anderson 73), Diamond (sub Boyes 90), Ramshaw, Hall, Taylor Subs not used: Elliott, Hibbs, Harrison.

Attendance 669 In the EvoStik League Premier, South Shields were held to a 1-1 draw by Basford which leaves them three points behind leaders Farsley Celtic with three games left.

Whitby lost 2-1 at home to Stafford Rangers.

Morpeth won the EvoStik League East title after beating Pontefract 3-1, while Marske lost 4-0 at Ossett United.