BRIGHTLINGSEA REGENT have re-established their six-point lead at the Ryman League division north summit.
The R’s won 3-0 at Waltham Abbey while second-placed MALDON AND TIPTREE went down 3-1 at Cheshunt.
James Webster’s men now appear very much in the driving seat at the top of the table, with seven games left.
They went into Saturday’s match on the back of a 1-0 defeat at home to fellow promotion hopefuls Thurrock, last Saturday.
However, prior to that, their recent form had been exceptional, with 12 wins and two draws since their last loss, at Dereham Town on Boxing Day.
They were also unbeaten in their previous six away games, before the weekend.
Billy Hunt, Aaron Condon and Tom Richardson netted Regent’s goals on Saturday, with the first coming after a long clearance by keeper Sam Cowler.
Hunt connected with it and directed his header over the Abbey keeper.
The hosts’ Jack Daveney was red-carded for violent conduct on 40 minutes.
And Brightlingsea added their second shortly before the hour-mark, thanks to a well-taken effort from Condon.
The club’s top-scorer cut inside before firing across goal and inside the far post.
Richardson then added the third after 72 minutes but his strike owed much to a brilliant piece of play from Hunt.
The latter weaved past two players before unselfishly laying the ball into Richardson’s path.
Maldon had won three and lost three of their previous six fixtures, during a patchy spell of form since late January.
And their inconsistent ways continued as they went down 3-1 at Cheshunt.
All the goals came in the second half, with Jason Hallett netting twice after Liam Hope’s opener.
Kyle Hammond grabbed a late consolation but it proved too little, too late for the Jammers.
WITHAM TOWN stretched their unbeaten run to four games after winning 3-1 at struggling Great Wakering Rovers.
They went into the game in confident mood, with recent results including a 3-0 victory against VCD Athletic and last week’s 5-3 success against HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS.
Saturday’s outcome was just as comfortable, with Nathan Koranteng and Scott Kemp (two) on target for Adam Flint’s side.
Harley Kee netted Wakering’s consolation, although the hosts’ chances were dented by a red card for Stephen Butterworth.
Swifts went down 4-1 at home to Haringey Borough.
Jody Brown’s men had ended a run of three defeats with an important 2-1 success at home to Wroxham, on Tuesday night.
However, they found themselves on the back foot following goals from Anthony McDonald and Chris Benjamin (brace).
Luke Hornsley pulled one back early in the second half but it was not enough to inspire a dramatic comeback and Borough scored again through Gabriel Royston.