NORTH Greenford United gave the Combined Counties champions-elect a run for their money before succumbing to an injury time winner, in the Easter Monday clash at Berkeley Fields.
United deserved a share of the spoils, but Bedfont Green defender Ray Sherwood popped up with a last-gasp strike to make it 3-2 to the visitors.
Victory effectively confirmed the league title for the Green and deservedly so. Since Christmas they have been the most consistent of the top five teams and have not looked like stumbling at the final hurdle.
However, the race is still on for second place and United are not out of it yet. But to have any chance of securing the runners-up slot, they will need to win their remaining four games, beginning at Camberley on Saturday.
Monday's performance was United's best in recent weeks. They took the lead at the end of a pulsating first period. Striker Dave Lawrence found himself in space in the middle of the park and, seeing Green keeper Lee Pearce off his line, produced a stunning long range effort that dipped under the bar. Five minutes after the resumption, United were caught out when Chris Henry found space inside the box to strike the ball past United keeper Gary Jallow.
Within a matter of minutes United restored their lead.
A Michael Murray free kick was clearly handled by Henry inside the visitors' box and referee John Ryan had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Pearce managed to save both Lawrence's penalty strike and a follow-up effort from Murray, but the ball finally fell to Jack Bennett, who powered it into the roof of the net.
Ten minutes later, it was Bedfont's turn to score from the spot.
United centre-back Jamie Diston was adjudged to have tripped substitute Stuart Blackburn, and although Jallow saved Phil Merritt's initial strike, Merritt was first to the loose ball and he made no mistake second time around.
With five minutes remaining, card-happy referee Ryan sent off Murray, giving the United midfielder a second yellow for an off-the-ball incident. Greenford continued to battle but were undone by Sherwood's last minute goal.
On Saturday, United drew 1-1 away to a much-improved Ash United. Defender Alan Hanning gave Ash the lead after half-an-hour.Ten minutes into the second half, Andre DeLisser made a strong run down the right, and from the byline delivered a great cross for newcomer Ryan Nelson to find the net with a textbook header.