Winslow United upset the odds with a well-deserved away win at second placed Bedford FC, in a match that offered little in sportsmanship, but plenty of talking points.
Winslow did it the hard way, coming from behind twice and going on to score a late winner, having got off to the worst possible start by conceding a penalty in the third minute.
A ball down their right wing set Luigi Rocco away and he managed to get away from Hateley Mercer and into the box.
A lunging tackle saw the Bedford player go down and the referee point to the spot, with Bedford skipper Craig Grieve scoring the resulting penalty.
The odds looked stacked against the visitors from this point on, but Winslow regrouped, started again and refused to be down-hearted.
Their first chance came after 14 minutes when Jason Costello held the ball up down the right wing. He fed in Joel McCormick who in turn laid the ball back to Ryan Freshwater who crossed for Dale Butler who headed wide.
The first talking point came on the quarter hour mark when a Bedford attack saw a shot come in from 20 yards out. Owusu Boateng in the Winslow goal got down to his left to tip the ball away for a corner, however the Bedford players protested the ball had gone in the goal, and escaped through a gap in the back of the net.
After some consultation with his linesman, the referee confirmed his original decision of a corner ball.
Three minutes later Winslow had the referee pointing to the penalty spot in their favour, when the ball was played into McCormick inside the Bedford box with his back to goal.
As he went to turn he was upended and the referee had no alternative but to blow his whistle and award the spot kick. Costello took the responsibility but could only shoot wide of the left hand post.
Winslow again refused to be broken, and again remained upbeat, and continued to press. Bedford were restricted to pot shots at goal, and in the 39th minute, a shot on the left from Sheldon Washington was well smothered by Boateng.
A minute into added time, McCormick slipped the ball into Butler inside the Bedford area. He side-stepped a defender and coolly slotted home past the helpless keeper to level the scores at 1-1
Winslow came out for the second half like a team possessed, and seemed convinced this game was theirs for the taking.
Just three minutes in, Winslow midfield general Grant Karwacinski took control of the ball just outside the penalty area. He spotted Bedford keeper Aaron Bodger slightly off his line and went for an attempted chip over the keeper, but the ball headed wide of the post.
Bedford then showed just why they are at the top end of the table as, after resisting the Winslow onslaught, they went up the other end and Steven Brooks slotted home to give them the lead for the second time in the match.
However this lead lasted just four minutes as a through-ball from the back set Juyin Oluwayemi away shoulder to shoulder with a home defender. The Winslow player managed to get a foot to the ball and knock it past the advancing keeper.
The ball rolled agonisingly slowly towards goal – at first it appeared a chasing defender may get to the ball in time – but in the end he had to give up and watch the ball roll into the back of the net.
In the 63rd minute, another run down the left from Butler saw him take the ball into the Bedford box. With players in the middle waiting for the cross, a Bedford defender managed to get a last second foot out to take ball off Butler’s toe before he could supply the final cross.
Winslow continued to press, and nine minutes from time a corner from Karwacinski was dealt with at the near post, but the ball fell back to the midfielder who advanced towards goal before unleashing a venomous shot that flashed across the goal but wide of the far post.
Three minutes from time came the Winslow winner, as a free-kick was again awarded to the visitors some 40 yards out.
Freshwater sent the ball goalwards and it appeared to take a slight deflection before nestling in the back of the Bedford net.
Winslow then almost scored again in the final minute, when Mark Wiltshire thundered in a free-kick that Bodger tipped onto the crossbar and over the top.