IT is neck-and-neck at the top of the National League South after 10-man Chelmsford City defeated fellow promotion hopefuls Dartford on Saturday.

The Clarets were indebted to Jack West for his early goal, after he profited from a defensive error and Lee Barnard’s through ball to net.

But they had to play more than 70 minutes a man down following Kudus Oyenuga’s alleged elbow on Dartford’s Tom Bonner.

In windy conditions, Chelmsford were up against it against the Kent side, with Ryan Hayes’ corner causing chaos in the six-yard box before the danger was cleared.

Alfie Pavey then thought he had drawn the visitors level on the half hour, having passed the ball beyond goalkeeper Sam Beasant, only for the linesman’s flag to halt the celebrations.

Captain Elliot Bradbrook was off target from a corner as the Clarets continued to prove why they have the best defensive record in the division.

But Chelmsford came close to extending their advantage at the start of the second half, Dan Green’s speculative strike hitting the outside of the post.

James Stevenson was the next to be denied as the Clarets looked to kill off Dartford, with Bradbrook again off target up the other end.

Into the final 20 minutes, Danny Harris’ cross was inches away from being converted as the pressure was cranked up on the home backline.

And Dartford came even closer when Michael Spillane’s goal-line clearance kept out the Darts as the clock edged into injury-time - Harris the man denied.

Chelmsford City: Beasant, Omozusi, Spillane, Smith, Braham-Barrett, Davies, Stevenson, Green (Daley 71’), West (Johnson 74’), Barnard (Assombalonga 78’), Oyenuga