Scott Machin was delighted with the way Kettering Town “upped the ante” as they picked up a crucial 1-0 victory over Aylesbury at Latimer Park.
Brett Solkhon’s goal nine minutes into the second half proved decisive as the Poppies took full control at the top of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central thanks to a fourth win in a row.
The Poppies now hold an eight-point lead over the third-placed Moles but, even more importantly, they are now five clear at the summit after Bedworth United were held to a 1-1 draw by Barton Rovers.
The top-of-the-table clash proved to be a real battle on the boggy Latimer Park pitch.
And, after being critical of his players for their display in the 2-1 win over AFC Hayes last weekend, joint-boss Machin was thoroughly impressed this time.
“I am absolutely delighted,” he said.
“As critical as I was last weekend, I am patting them on the back this time because, to a man, they were fantastic and that includes the guys who came off the bench as well.
“Everybody put a real shift in and you have to against Aylesbury because they are a big, strong, physical side and we stood up to that and it went our way.
“Brett is going to go down in folklore in Kettering with the way he is going and it is a great result for us.
“We wanted to start the game the way we started the second half and I thought Aylesbury had a good spell at the beginning.
“I thought we grew into the game as it went on and we said at half-time that it was the time to up the ante and put them under a bit of pressure and see what they were all about.
“We did that and in some ways it could have been more comfortable than it was because we were dominant in the second half. But I will take a 1-0 all day long.
“Aylesbury are a good side. They are in the running for a reason and I personally believe they are the best side we have played this season so I am delighted we have got the win.”
The Poppies, weather permitting, will travel to bottom side North Greenford United on Tuesday night for what is their game in hand on Aylesbury, although Bedworth are in action at Bedford Town, who thumped North Greenford 7-0 on Saturday.
And Machin is keen to ensure his team don’t let their cushion at the top slip as they have done on other occasions this season.
He added: “We couldn’t ask for a better position to be in, apart from maybe winning the game in hand which would make it fantastic for us.
“What we have to do now is make sure we don’t get carried away with having a little cushion.
“We have done that twice this season and thrown the cushion away to a certain extent.
“We need to keep pressing on, it’s a good run we have got ourselves on just at the right time so the next game is vitally important.”