Corby Town made it two wins in a row to help keep their Evo-Stik League South play-off hopes alive as they claimed a fine 3-2 success at 10-man Stocksbridge Park Steels.
Jordon Crawford was restored to the Steelmen’s starting 11 following his impressive impact as a substitute in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Loughborough Dynamo while Dean McBride kept his place at the heart of the defence with Peter Dearle returning to the substitutes’ bench.
Steelmen goalkeeper Sam Wilson made a save from Alex Wiles before the key moment of the half arrived on 17 minutes when Stocksbridge goalkeeper David Reay committed a foul in the area and was sent-off as Corby were awarded a penalty.
And the returning Gardner made no mistake as he put them in front from the spot with his first goal for the club.
That lead was doubled on the hour when Dino Tuksar also opened his account for Corby when he scored after a good cross from Crawford.
Stocksbridge pulled a goal back through Scott Ruthven from a corner.
But Phil Trainer grabbed what proved to be the winner with his second goal in as many games after more good work from Crawford.
The hosts did grab another goal, again from a corner, through Richard Stirrup but the Steelmen saw things out to secure the three points.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ 17-match unbeaten run came to an end as they suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat at Egham Town.
But Diamonds remain top of the Evo-Stik South League East and they will have been relieved to see that others below them also faltered.
Luke Fairlamb returned to the starting line-up following a three-match suspension while Tom Lorraine recovered from a back problem to keep his place in the team.
Diamonds went close early on when Sam Brown headed a Fairlamb cross narrowly wide.
But it was Egham who took a shock lead on 21 minutes when a defensive mix-up ended with goalkeeper Ben Heath being lobbed.
Diamonds got back on level terms six minutes before half-time when Joel Gyasi found the net after good work from Fairlamb.
But they were only level for a minute as Egham regained the lead with a long-range effort following a corner.
Diamonds piled the pressure on after the break but were unable to find a way through.
Ryan Robbins shot narrowly over, John Dean and Brown both went close following a Fairlamb corner and Robbins was also denied by the home goalkeeper.
Jack Ashton headed over late on but Diamonds were unable to find a way through.
Kettering Town were unable to make it a perfect week as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Chesham United.
The loss means Chesham closed the gap on the Poppies in the battle for the play-off places in the Evo-Stik South League Premier to nine points, although they have played two games more.
The Poppies were able to name an unchanged team for the third game in a row after the wins over Bishop’s Stortford and Tiverton Town.
And there was the welcome sight of midfielder Michael Richens being back on the bench alongside the club’s newest recruit Alex Metcalfe.
There were few chances in an even first half but the Poppies had the best of them when Mathew Stevens saw his header from a Ben Toseland free-kick cannon off the crossbar.
Aaron O’Connor shot into the side netting in the second half but it was Chesham who opened the scoring on 69 minutes when Oran Swales crossed for Lewis Toomey to tap home.
Orrin Pendley headed wide as the Poppies went in search of an equaliser but Chesham went straight down the other end and doubled the lead when Shane Bush lobbed Paul White from six yards.