WITH five minutes left, 1874 Northwich supporters could have been forgiven for feeling their team may never beat Oldham Boro.
After two failed attempts, the pattern was a familiar one until leading scorer Mike Brandon timed perfectly his intervention.
When a loose ball rolled into his path, the striker swept in goal number 18 of the season to change how those fans will feel from now on about this fixture.
It leaves his team a point short of the summit.
The visitors need not have left it so late, mind.
Rick Bailey forced Boro net-minder Tom Elford to save smartly during the opening exchanges, front man Nathan Adams doing the same at the other end to 1874 goalkeeper Matt Conkie.
Steve Bancroft’s blast from distance dipped over, then Lee Duckworth smuggled a goal-bound effort off the line with his head.
Stuart Wellstead shot into the side-netting, while at the start of the second half Brandon’s header scraped an upright.
Meanwhile teenager Tom Peers ought to have done better than shoot skywards from Matthew Ward’s assist.
When Wellstead’s looping attempt was diverted to safety by a retreating defender, Oldham were comforted.
That is until Brandon, so reliable in front of goal for Ian Street’s men this season, did what he has so often already this term.
1874 Conkie (GK), Mitchell, Farnworth, Duckworth, Stewart, Jones, Bailey, Peers, Ward, Wellstead, Brandon Subs not used Bowyer, McKay, Crane, McGregor Goal Brandon 85
Referee Paul Ince