James Walshaw’s goal on the stroke of half time consigned Brackley Town to their first defeat of the season at Altrincham, who leapfrogged Saints into second.
A tight and evenly-contested game produced little goalmouth incident at either end but kept the 855-strong crowd engrossed on a bright afternoon.
Walshaw’s 45th minute finish – a moment of rare quality – separated the teams at the break and Saints could not find an equaliser in a second half that opened up but ultimately ended in frustration for the visitors.
Altrincham were arguably denied a penalty on the half hour when Walshaw went down under pressure but the referee waved away the protests. Neither side created a clear-cut chance before Walshaw was put through on and found the corner to give his side an added time lead.
Charlie Griffin and Nat Jarvis replaced Gary Mulligan and Steve Diggin with 25 minutes remaining but to little effect as Town were blunted by a well organised and tenacious Altrincham side looking to exact revenge from last season’s play-off exit.
An overhead kick by Jarvis from Glenn Walker’s cross was spectacular if not goal threatening as plentiful possession and several half chances could not produce the goal-scoring moment for Saints.
At the other end, Walshaw drilled his shot wide and neat moves on 67 and 80 minutes saw first Gianluca Havern fire a shot straight at Billy Turley and then Nicky Clee shoot wide for Altrincham but neither keeper was called into serious action.
Saints turned up the heat in the final stages but Altrincham defended stoutly to hold on for a vital three points.
Brackley: Turley, Odhiambo, McDonald (Roberts 50), Towers, Sharpe, Austin, Reid, Solkhon, Mulligan (Jarvis 66), Diggin (Griffin 66), Walker.