Team Northumbria edged a nailbiting fixture in County Durham to remain unbeaten ahead of a vital top four clash on Saturday.
Kevin Carr grabbed the crucial winner in what turned out to be a real test against league strugglers Esh Winning who, under new management, handed debuts to seven players.
“We played a very good team tonight with some quality, experienced players and I’m really delighted with the result,” said manager Colin Stromsoy after the 1-0 win.
Esh Winning, who have had a turbulent start to the season, brought in a new manager on Sunday and a number of new players which made it a tough match for the Northumbria side.
But some strong build up play and quick reactions from Carr ensured Stromsoy’s team got the job done and secured another vital three points.
“I was really pleased with the performance," added Stromsoy. “Liviu Cristea was outstanding at left back and probably had the best 45 he’s had in a TN shirt in the first half.”
Squad rotation was key for TN, whose BUCS trip to Loughborough coincided with their midweek Northern League second division fixture.
“We handed three lads debuts tonight: Adam Laidler, Daniel Bennett and Connor Drinkeld who all did fantastically well," added Stromsoy.
“Two games in one day makes it really difficult and to grab two 1-0 wins against two strong teams fielding just students, really is exceptional.
“As a player or coach I’ve never been with a team who have had such a good start to the season but there are a lot of very good teams in this league so it’s going to be tough.
“For the lads who’d travelled to Loughborough, to then come to Esh and support the team, was a great example of the team spirit and group togetherness.
“The way they congratulated the guys who got the win tonight was nice to se. They’re a really special group of lads.”
TN are back in County Durham to face fourth placed Easington Colliery on Saturday and will look to extend their lead at the top of the Northern League second division.