Kadeem Price’s last-gasp winner gave Melton Town their third straight victory on Saturday as they closed the gap on the top two.
The 1-0 win at Bourne allowed Town to move within five points of second-placed Lutterworth Town who dropped points for the second game running as they were held to a surprise 3-3 draw at Bugbrooke.
Melton made just one change to the team that had beaten Holwell the previous weekend, with Jack Baker, returning from suspension, replacing Nathan Arnold.
The visitors started as they have done all season, on the front foot, and nearly took the lead in the first minute when the ball was worked down the right and played into Michael Reeve.
Cardell miscontrolled the ball, but Reeve’s eventual effort was a whisker wide.
Parsons was then booked for diving on the edge of the area, something which would come back to haunt him later in the game.
Levi Fray skipped down the touchline and sent in a low cross which Jordan Lever met with a fierce shot, but it was well saved by Bourne keeper Murphy.
The keeper flapped at the resulting corner which fell to Reeve who should have found the net from three yards.
Player-manager Tom Manship then went close with a free-kick from the left edge of the area which brushed the right post.
Bourne had to rely on breakaway attacks, and midway through the half were given the chance to hit the front when Bottriel played in Zak Munton.
He cut inside Fray and sent in a rasping shot which shaved the crossbar.
Melton kept Bourne pinned in their own half for much of the first half without really creating enough chances.
That changed almost from the second half kick-off as the visitors upped their tempo once more.
Man-of-the-match Levi Fray continued to cause problems down the left and a ball into Parsons was flicked onto Reeve who was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Cooper.
Lever played a lovely ball to Reeve, and his turn and shot was well saved by Murphy.
A controversial moment followed just after the hour mark when Parsons was brought down by Smail on the edge of the area.
Parsons, to his credit, jumped up and carried on his run, but to everyone’s surprise was shown a second yellow card for diving.
The 10 men of Melton then appeared to control the game better as Manship rung the changes and altered the formation.
Chris Hibbitt should have scored when Manship floated in a free-kick which found the number five clear, four yards out, but he headed wide.
Then, with just two minutes to play, Reeve got himself to the byline and pulled back the ball for substitute Price who sent the ball over the bar.
This could have dented his confidence, but as the game went into stoppage-time, the striker made no mistake.
The move was replicated as Reeve again got to the byline and his pass found Price in front of goal who this time crashed the ball home to send the large away support into dreamland.
This was a close call and Melton again didn’t make their dominance pay as they should, but the 10 men showed their class to bring home three important points.
With Thrapston visiting The Signright on Saturday, another three points could make it four league wins in a row for the first time since April 2016.
Town: Peet, Rigby, Fray, Hibbitt (Hill), Gilchrist, Fray, Baker, Manship, Reeve, Parsons, Lever (Price).