Buckingham Athletic took the local bragging rights when they beat rivals Winslow United 3-0 at Stratford Fields.
The scoreline suggests a one-sided encounter but that would be an unfair reflection on Winslow who enjoyed large periods on top but failed to turn chances into goals as Athletic goalkeeper Nick Bennion produced an inspired display to keep United at bay.
There were chances at both ends in a goalless first-half as Charlie Flanagan twice threatened Bennion’s goal while Simon King was only denied by a fine save from Ryan Thrussells.
Flanagan was denied again by Bennion in the first couple of second half minutes, however it was Buckingham who then struck when Winslow conceded possession cheaply and the ball was slipped through to Matt Cruse, who latched onto it and slotted beyond Thrussell.
Leo Brooks was the next Winslow player to be denied by Bennion before Ryan Freshwater headed over from a corner.
Any hope of a Winslow fightback was ended with 11 minutes remaining, though, when Freshwater was shown a second yellow card.
Lolu Onabolu did force Bennion into a fine save moments later but a Simon King penalty and a last-minute Cruse goal saw Athletic seal a victory which takes them seventh in SSML Division One.
Winslow remain 16th and player-manager John Mullholland said afterwards: “This was a big game that unfortunately was marred by a refereeing decision.
“I thought the first half was a very even affair and both sides had chances to take the lead but didn’t manage to capitalise, for me the two best goalkeepers in the league were on show and both made excellent and important saves throughout the game.
“I thought we started the second half brightly again and Flanners had an excellent chance to put us one up but didn’t quite get the right connection on the shot.
“I thought Michael Reed was a constant threat and the Buckingham’s left-back was struggling with him all game, unfortunately the end product wasn’t there from our lads to give us a lead.
“Then, slightly against the run of play in my opinion, our midfield was caught in possession and Buckingham took the advantage with a good goal from their striker.
“The boys reacted well and we had a chance to get back in the game but for Buckingham’s keeper to make some good saves again and keep us out.
“This is when it went all wrong for me, Buckingham had a penalty claim which wasn’t given and the ref played advantage, only for the Buckingham striker not to score and the ref decided to call it back for a penalty.
“In fairness to the referee he did admit after that he made a mistake but unfortunately for us it was the killer blow and was too late but I have to give him credit, a lot of referees wouldn’t admit they were wrong.
“Our captain was sent off for a second yellow card late on and by then it was a steep climb for us to get back into it.
“Until the penalty I cannot fault my players’ attitudes. They all want to win and unfortunately, we aren’t getting the right results at the minute.
“But we have not been outplayed by a single team yet, which is promising, and we just need to cut out our own mistakes as this is the only thing costing us games. We have to keep positive and get to the end of the season and look to build for next season.”
Winslow face Codicote this weekend while Athletic go to Baldock.