Warrington Town started the New Year in style with a 4-1 win over play-off rivals Bamber Bridge.
Mitch Duggan’s header set the Yellows on their way, before two goals in as many second half minutes for Evan Gumbs and Josh Amis gave them a cushion.
Sean Williams’ penalty stretched the lead and the win means the Yellows are now just three points off the top of the Northern Premier League table.
The visitors came to Cantilever Park with the best away record in the division and looked good value for that accolade in the opening 20 minutes.
For all their control of the game though, they only had one chance of note to speak of – Adam Dawson brushed the side netting with a drive from the edge of the box.
With former Yellows boss Paul Carden back in the crowd for the first time since his departure to AFC Telford United, the home side gradually asserted some authority in the game.
They came close when Williams fizzed a shot just over the bar, but were fortunate not to fall behind when a sloppy clearance by Dan Atherton cannoned off Bohan Dixon in to the path of Finlay Sinclair-Smith, whose instinctive shot grazed the outside of the post.
An open and entertaining game in front of 842 continued when Jay Harris’ flick sent Dixon striding forward, the number 10 not getting hold of his shot but at least forcing a first save out of former Everton youth goalkeeper Matheus Hewelt.
The deadlock was broken four minutes from the break, when James Baillie got outside Sinclair-Smith on the right and delivered a lovely ball that was headed down in to the far corner by Duggan, for his first league goal in more than four years.
Sinclair-Smith had tormented Baillie when the two last met at FC United last season, but the Yellows right-back was having the upper hand in this one, and his next cross was headed just over the bar by Amis and the hosts led 1-0 at half time.
Just as they did in the first, Bamber Bridge started the second half with purpose and within two minutes of the restart, Dan Martin cracked the crossbar with a first time effort from Dawson’s right wing cross.
It was anyone’s game until the Yellows landed a double sucker punch on the hour.
Former Warrington midfielder Craig Carney fouled Williams, who curled a free-kick towards the back post that Amis headed against the woodwork and Gumbs swept in from close range.
Brig barely had chance to reset from that when Jay Harris split the defence with a pass right for Jack Mackreth, and his cross was trapped and sidefooted home by Amis for 3-0.
That virtually sealed the points for the Yellows and they had a fourth on 71 minutes, when Amis was upended by Callum Spooner in the box, enabling Williams to step up and send Hewelt the wrong way from the spot.
Amis should have made it five when he stood on the ball barely four yards out after Hewelt had denied Williams, shortly before making way for the returning Jordan Buckley.
Brig chucked centre-back Nathan Pond up front for the final quarter and they did get a goal, Isaac Sinclair firing in to the corner from Macauley Wilson’s cross.
Results elsewhere mean just three points now separate the top five teams, including Bamber Bridge and Warrington Town, while the Yellows have opened up a three point cushion on sixth placed Whitby.
They are next in action on Tuesday night at home to Hyde United in the Cheshire Senior Cup, before an enthralling January of league fixtures against Buxton, FC United, South Shields and Whitby Town.
Warrington Town: Atherton, Baillie, Duggan, Harris, Roberts, Gumbs, Mackreth (Hough), Williams, Amis (Buckley), Dixon, Grivosti (Duffy). Unused subs: Mols, Regan.
Bamber Bridge: Hewelt, Wilson, Coulton, Spooner, Pond, Martin, Dawson (Forbes), Carney (Billington), Sinclair, Skinner, Sinclair-Smith (Churchman). Unused sub: Cottam.
Photos by Jonathan Moore.