Melton Foxes kept up their charge at the top of Division One with a hard-earned home win over a talented Gilmorton team at the All England Ground.
Following the loss of keeper McNeight the previous week, Melton were dealt a further blow when in-form Cameron Ainge was declared unavailable at short notice.
The hosts were down to just 12 players, including Harrison Mayes who climbed off his sick bed with a chest infection to play.
After a delayed kick-off, the Foxes set off at breakneck speed and caught Gilmorton cold with the opener after three minutes.
Bradley Carroll’s superb run and low cross found the unmarked Cameron Steans who controlled and fired home.
Four minutes later Mayes’ superb cross from the left allowed Steans to double the lead.
And within 15 minutes it was 3-0 when the visitors failed to clear Mayes’ testing corner and Alex Horobin was tripped as he shaped to shoot.
Shaun Smith stepped up to place the penalty into the corner.
Gilmorton sprang into life when a superb move down their left opened up Melton, but with only Chris Lovegrove to beat their speedy winger shot into the side-netting. Seconds later the winger saw his goalbound shot superbly saved by Lovegrove.
Mayes sent over another good corner for Smith who headed off target before illness ended his game.
The Foxes also started the second half well and went further ahead within five minutes when Steans’ flick-on put Smith clear and the striker made no mistake from six yards.
Carroll shot wide when well placed, Lauchlan headed Thorpe’s cross past the post and Smith had a shot well saved before Horobin’s 20-yard free-kick was superbly tipped over.
Gilmorton’s skilful midfielder’s 25-yard effort struck the bar and Lovegrove recovered to produce a wonderful block from the rebound.
But with five minutes left Gilmorton were rewarded when a cross from the right caused problems and Thorpe was penalised for a trip. The penalty was duly dispatched to cap the scoring.
The three points kept the Foxes top with two games remaining. They travel to the fancied Whetstone tonight (Thursday) before their last match at mid-table Market Bosworth next Thursday.
Foxes: C. Lovegrove, L. Thorpe, A. Lauchlan, G. Wilkinson, A. Kotarba, B. Carroll, A. Walker, A. Horobin, H. Mayes, S. Smith, C. Steans, J. Bates.