Brackley Town recorded back-to-back league wins for just the second time this season to lift themselves away from relegation trouble in the Vanarama Conference North.
Saints have been hovering just above the drop zone all season, but wins over Gloucester City and then Gainsborough Trinity have seen them climb to a season-high 13th.
Manager Jon Brady had billed his side’s encounter against Gloucester on New Year’s Day as the “biggest game of the season for us, a massive game that we must win” with the two sides sitting 18th and 19th in the table, and his Saints side did not disappoint as they earned a deserved 1-0 victory.
The game’s decisive moment came in the early moments of the second half when Ryan Rowe cleared a City corner to find Greg Kazaboni, whose speed and control on the ball took him past two defenders before he produced a perfect cross to pick out Ebby Nelson-Addy, who headed into the back of the net for what proved to be the winner.
Brackley had chances to win by a greater margin with Kazaboni, David Moyo and Dwayne Samuels all going close, but one goal proved enough for victory.
Brady said afterwards: “We had to win today. We showed character, resilience and spirit. It is a really very satisfying result against what is a strong Gloucester City side now they have their players back.
“In difficult conditions with a near gale blowing, we had our backs to the wall at times but were strong today. I feel immensely proud of that performance.”
Brackley then faced another crunch clash on Sunday when they travelled to fellow strugglers Gainsborough Trinity.
After the pitch had passed a 10am inspection, Saints made a bright start with Rowe and Kaziboni causing problems in the opening minutes.
Although there was little in the way of goalmouth action, the visitors took the lead on 33 minutes when Rowe burst into the penalty area and squared to on-loan striker David Moyo, who fired past goalkeeper Jan Budtz to break the deadlock.
It could have been even better at half time as a well-worked team move ended with Nelson-Addy having a shot blocked, and right on the whistle, Rowe latched onto Billy Turley’s goal-kick, only to volley over from 18 yards.
In the second half, Brackley were forced to defend for long periods as the home side poured forward and eventually they pulled level through Danny Forrest.
However, instead of Gainsborough pushing forward, Saints showed tremendous spirit to come fighting back and the visitors bag the decisive goal on 70 minutes when Moyo ran onto a defence-splitting ball from Sam Whittall before slotting into the net.
Saints had to withstand some late Trinity pressure and two late saves from Turley ensured the points to give Brackley the perfect start to 2015.
Although his side have now steered clear of trouble, Brady insists there is still plenty of work to do, adding: “We need 21 points from 18 games to reach my 50-point target and the question is can we do it. The table looks a lot healthier after back-to-back wins but there is still a lot of work to do before we can be safe.”
Brackley host Harrogate Town this Saturday before travelling to North Ferriby United next Tuesday.