MARK Hawkes watched his Chelmsford City side battle to earn five vital points in a thrilling week of football that offered a big boost to the club’s survival hopes.
A last-minute winner by Michael Cheek gave City a huge 3-2 win over Basingstoke on Tuesday night and two days later, another late goal, this time from Mark Hughes, earned a draw at the death with Bishop’s Stortford.
On Saturday, City kept Skrill South champions-elect Eastleigh at bay in a 0-0 draw at Melbourne Park.
Those crucial points mean, with four games to go, City sit four points clear of the relegation zone.
But in an important fortnight of fixtures, City still have their Skrill South future to play for. Ninth-placed Staines Town are up next on Saturday.
In a dramatic game last Tuesday, City defender Christian Smith had a mixed opening 15 minutes, scoring at both ends.
The first gave Basingstoke the lead as he put the ball into his own net. But he levelled the scores later, converting from the spot after Luke Callander was fouled.
Liam Enver-Marum put Basingstoke back in front before Cheek drew City level once more, with 15 minutes to play.
In the first minute of injury time, Joe Ward was composed enough to pick out Cheek in the box who struck home the winner – which lifted City out of the bottom three.
In equally dramatic fashion, Hughes levelled late in Hertfordshire on Thursday. Callum McNaughton inadvertently gave Stortford the lead when Smith’s attempted clearance bounced in off the back of the centre half’s back in the 65th minute.
An equaliser looked improbable for City, until Cheek battled down the right and crossed for Hughes, who had the where-with-all to slot home in the fifth minute of added time.
On Saturday, money-bags Eastleigh descended on Melbourne Park, knowing they were on the cusp of taking the Skrill South title.
But Hawkes’ side held them at bay – and might even have taken all three points themselves, had Cheek put the ball either side of Eastleigh stopper Ross Flitney after being sent through on goal late on.