Melton Foxes will spend Christmas at the top of the league after beating Borough Alliance at Market Harborough on Sunday.
With league leaders AFC Barwell on cup duty it allowed the Foxes to leapfrog them to the top for the first time this season.
The Foxes kicked off in heavy rain on a boggy, muddy, narrow pitch, and for the first 15 minutes piled on the pressure.
Winger Cameron Ainge was involved in most of Melton’s dangerous moves down the right, and his cross teed up Cameron Steans whose close-range effort was blocked by the keeper. Steans headed the resulting corner wide from close range.
Three quick corners kept up the pressure, but a desperate home defence scrambled the ball away following close-range efforts by Steans and Smith.
Alex Kotarba’s determination earned Melton the opener, beating his man on the left before cutting back and finding Smith unmarked in the area to fire hard and low into the corner.
Smith fired wide when well placed and Steans, Ainge and Walker all had half-chances, but failed to capitalise.
And despite dominatign the half, Melton had to make two goal-line clearances to preserve the lead.
Foxes kept up the pressure after the break and more chances were spurned as a super save denied Walker’s long-range effort.
The nerves began to show as Borough grew into the match and stunned the Foxes with a 65th minute equaliser when a long through ball split the defence for their striker to fire under the diving Connor McNeight.
Bradley Carroll and Kenny Jones came on and were both were soon in the action with telling crosses.
Foxes regained the lead when a superb move down the left between Carroll and Wilkinson saw the ball fed to Horobin. His superb skill left a defender floundering before calmly rolling the ball to Smith who gleefully smashed home a close-range finish.
Smith, Jones and Horobin had chances to add to the tally before Foxes clinched the game with five minutes left when Jones raced in to fire home Carroll’s cross from close range.
Foxes: C. McNeight, C. Lovegrove, J. Nickolls, A. Lauchlan, G. Wilkinson, J. Bates, C. Ainge, A. Kotarba, A. Horobin, A. Walker, S. Smith, C. Steans, K. Jones, B. Carroll.