Inflicting a second home defeat on Northerners in the space of four days, Leon Meakin’s men produced another champion performance with Danny Hale’s key two-goal influence topped off by a superb late clincher by the sprightly Ollie Smith in a 3-1 success.
Dom Heaume was back for Saints, Josh Addison missing in the home goal for the obvious must-win game after the midweek slip against Vale Rec.
Heaume was in the thick of the action from virtually the first whistle and on three minutes was slipping Hale free on goal as the North defence pushed up and were caught out.
Luckily for them Hale, going for power, slammed his finish over the bar.
It was certainly a strong start by the league leaders and when Josh Tugby’s clearance fell short it needed a desperate Danny Cooley tackle to deny Louis Hunter getting in a clear pop at goal.
Heaume, unable to find the extra couple of inches he needed in his leap, glanced a far-post header wide as Saints continued to push.
At this early stage George Mason was seemingly everywhere, winning a lot of midfield ball which allowed others to play.
Saints were buzzing, North merely just coping.
But, against the run of play, Saints conceded.
A mistake at the back let in Sam Murray who was deemed to be brought down as he prepared to shoot. Brent Blondel pointed to the spot and Keene Domaille stroked home the spot kick for a 14th minute lead.
Tugby kept North in front with a good stop with his legs to deny Hunter a swift leveller before the game was held up for a short while as Mason and Luke Mollet clashed heads in the centre circle.
Mollet initially seemed to come off worse, but was first to his feet as Mason sat on the ground looking a touch dazed.
Mason was helped off and while Mollet walked off unaided, both men’s game was finished after barely 20 minutes.
With Mason sitting on the sidelines and awaiting a lift to hospital for a check-over, Tugby very nearly gifted Heaume an equaliser, but desperately managed to repair his own self-inflicted damage.
Mason’s transport had barely left the ground when Chris Le Cheminant was deemed to have chopped Hale in the box.
It seemed a touch soft and although Hale saw his spot-kick saved well by Tugby, inside a minute Hale was finishing clinically to make it 1-1.
Domaille very nearly got his second with a free-kick from 20 yards that curled inches wide of Martin’s left-hand post, while at the other end Tugby, for the third time, gave North players and fans the heebie-jeebies with a misplaced attempted pass out.
Sub Alex Roussel headed inches over on Brad O’Regan’s pull back from the right byline and, for sure, had the ball hit the net it would have been just reward for a generally dominant half by the black-and-whites.
Now playing down the slope North started the second half in a more threatening manner, but with an hour played Jason Martin had still yet to make a testing save.
At the other end Le Cheminant so nearly headed into his own net amid a lack of communication with the reserve keeper who had rushed out of his goal.
Domaille, becoming more of a threat, tugged a chance wide for North and a close range header of his went straight at Martin.
North were growing in confidence and skipper River Marsh tested Martin from distance.
But as champions do, they react, and with 15 minutes remaining it was Saints who struck.
Hale skipped over halfway and, having fed Smith on the right, arrived with perfect timing to prod home the cross ahead of a nervous keeper.
Jose Alvarez used his full complement of subs, all of them U18s, but it was an old hand in the opposition who put the finishing touches to another key win.
Smith ran half the length of the pitch with the ball and having darted in off the left touchline, nipped in to score a great solo goal from an acute angle.