Melton Town moved up to third after surviving a stunning Holwell fightback in an extraordinary 10-goal derby on Tuesday evening.
It was almost 12 months to the day when these sides first met in the United Counties League and history looked to be repeating itself in eerie fashion.
In that inaugural meeting, hosts Melton stormed into a 4-0 lead at half-time, and they did it again at Signright Park, racing into a four-goal lead within 35 minutes.
But in a dramatic turnaround, Neil Miller’s side were level early in the second half after four goals in 16 crazy minutes either side of half-time before Corey Bucalossi and Zak Munton finally sealed a 6-4 win for promotion-chasing Town.
Hours of work by groundstaff wielding blow torches to dry out the playing surface allowed the pitch to pass its inspection at 3pm.
Their reward was a league record crowd of 204 and a stunning game.
After just two minutes ball, Munton’s turn was too quick for Ian Bitmead and his trip gave Town a penalty which Jordan Lever converted.
And two minutes later it was 2-0 when Codey Duncan danced past two defenders and sprayed the ball wide to Lever. His cross was headed into the net by Munton.
The pressure from Melton was relentless with Holwell blocks denying Lever’s free-kick and Hibbitt’s header from the resulting corner.
Holwell went close with their first attack when Aaron Black reached the by line and pulled the ball back for harry Allcock whose first-time shot went inches wide.
Melton extended their lead after 21 minutes when a move involving around 20 passes ended with Lever cutting inside Smith and playing a one-two with Munton before firing a shot into the far corner of the net.
The hosts made it 4-0 just after the half-our when Nathan Arnold’s corner found Hibbitt unmarked to shoot low through a crowded penalty area and into the goal.
With the game becoming a rout, Holwell were handed a lifeline with a penalty for a push on Bitmead which was dispatched well by George Coser.
Nathan Benjamin almost restored the four-goal cushion with a run from his own half, beating three defenders to go one-on-one with the keeper, but Challis saved well.
Black headed Allcock’s cross just wide while unmarked, but minutes later Holwell did have their second when Black’s corner was well met by Luke Peberdy’s thumping header which gave Rob Peet no chance.
The second half started as the first had finished with Holwell on top.
Another corner caused panic in Town’s defence and Ross Dunlop’s powerful header made it 4~3.
And just before the hour the comeback was complete when a move down the left saw a dangerous low cross into the six-yard box which Benjamin turned into his own net.
A deathly silence fell around the ground as the home crowd went into shock.
Tom Manship sent on former Holwell player Tom Harris to change things and in the 68th minute it paid off.
After linking with Arnold, Harris played a great ball to Bucalossi who made no mistake from six yards.
Melton took control as Holwell began to tire, and they finally put the game to bed with seven minutes left when Lever’s ball found the overlapping Sam Beaver and his low cross was touched into the net by Munton.
Melton looked the better side in a thrilling match which became a little physical at times, but Holwell never gave up and were nearly rewarded for their endeavours.
The win moved Town within five points of second-placed Bugbrooke with a game in hand, and 12 points of leaders Long Buckby, having played three games less.
And while the top-two play each other on Saturday, Melton host mid-table Saffron Dynamo (kick-off 3pm) which, with more poor weather forecast predicted, could well be moved to a neutral ground at Quorn..
Holwell, who stayed 13th after back-to-back away defeats to top-five sides, are also at home on Saturday when they welcome eighth-placed Harrowby to Welby Road (3pm).