Elliot Sandy grabbed the only goal of the game as Kettering Town’s charge at the top of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central continued with a 1-0 victory at Hanwell Town.
The hosts had started the day in third place but by the end of it, the Poppies had opened up a 10-point gap on them as Sandy struck early in the second half.
Kettering maintained their five-point lead at the summit as Bedworth United beat Leighton Town to stay in touch.
Joint-bosses Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin made just one change to the side that beat Chalfont St Peter last weekend with James Clifton replacing Ash Robinson at right-back.
The Poppies started brightly enough but it wasn’t until the half-hour mark that they carved out the first chance when Dubi Ogbonna forced home goalkeeper Alex Tokarczyk to palm the ball into the side-netting at the near post.
Hanwell responded with Billy Adcock and Bill Healey having efforts blocked during a goalmouth scramble.
But Kettering finished the half the stronger when David Kolodynski did the groundwork with a solo run before Tommy Hull blasted wide as the ball fell to him.
Hanwell created the first opening of the second half when Richard Knight saved from Tom Inch.
But the Poppies had a big chance to open the scoring soon after when Sandy held the ball up and found Clifton who burst into the box but blazed over the crossbar.
Sandy headed straight at Tokarczyk from a Steve Kinniburgh cross but the frontman was on target after 52 minutes as he put Kettering in front.
Ogbonna was the provider and Sandy produced a good finish across goal from close-range.
The Poppies took control and Ogbonna’s cross-shot forced Tokarczyk to tip the ball over before substitute Andy Hall robbed home defender Kyle Waton but saw his effort deflected just wide.
Kolodynski lofted a shot just over the bar after exchanging passes with Hall while James Jepson saw a free-kick clawed away by Tokarczyk.
Healey shot wide on the counter-attack before Hall should have put the game beyond doubt but could only blast wide of a the net after beating Tokarczyk to the ball.
The hosts caused a couple of nervous moments in the Kettering area with dangerous free-kicks but the visitors could have rounded things off late on when Kolodynski’s chip hit the post.
But they didn’t need another goal as the Poppies saw things out to secure another crucial victory.
Kettering return to action when they take on Royston Town in their final home game of the year at Latimer Park next weekend.
Hanwell: Tokarczyk, Kennedy, Waton, Bywater, O Duffy, Inch (sub Casey, 59 mins), Connor Duffy (sub Olufemi, 74 mins), Buckley, Healey, Adcock (sub Ocha, 65 mins), Smith. Subs not used: Calum Duffy, Rowlands.
Poppies: Knight; Clifton, Hull, Lee, Kinniburgh; Hoban (sub Hall, 59 mins), Solkhon, Jepson, Ogbonna (sub Gooding, 80 mins); Kolodynski, Sandy. Subs not used: Marsh, Robinson, Bukasa.
Referee: Sam Lewis.
Goal: Sandy (52 mins, 0-1).