Rye Town's footballers consolidated top spot with an away victory on Saturday, although they were made to work by bottom-of-the-table opposition.
Two unanswered second half goals from Charlie Stevens gave Rye a 3-1 win at Mountfield United, which preserved their six-point cushion at the top of Macron East Sussex Football League Division One.
Second-placed Crowhurst, who have two games in hand but a much worse goal difference, also won, while fourth-placed Bexhill Town - the only other team realistically in title contention - were in cup action and are now 12 points behind Rye having played five fewer matches.
Rye manager Shane Ridgers said: "We went over there and got what we wanted. It was quite an uneventful game, but we stuck together, battled well and worked hard, and you can't ask for any more than that. We made hard work of it, but we got the result."
Although yet to record a league win this season, Mountfield had the better of the early exchanges and struck the woodwork twice while the game was still scoreless.
Rye goalkeeper Richard 'Alfie' Weller firstly thought a shot was going wide only to see it come back off the post and the rebound was put over the top. Five minutes later, a Mountfield forward went through and crashed his shot against the crossbar.
Rye struggled to adapt their usual passing game to the more direct approach which Ridgers felt was needed on a sloping pitch, and it took them a while to stamp their authority.
They took the lead, though, with a well-worked goal in the 29th minute. Some good play down the wing ended with Martin Brain playing the ball across for Gould to slide in and smash home with his less favoured right foot from close range.
Although frustrated by a few borderline offside decisions going against them, Rye started to gain control of the game when they gave away a soft penalty in the 44th minute. Ridgers felt Joe Fraser merely outmuscled his man, but the referee pointed to the spot and Sean Smith converted to make it 1-1 at half time.
Rye knew where they were going wrong and duly put things right after the restart. Kicking down the hill, Rye looked quite comfortable in the second period and didn't really give Mountfield a sniff.
They reclaimed the lead in the 65th minute when Charlie Stevens skipped past a couple of opponents in the box and smashed the ball through a crowd of players into the net.
Rye kept probing and Stevens struck again in the 79th minute to end Mountfield's resistance. It was his 16th league goal of the season - the most of anybody across the league's six divisions.
Gould was the Pikes Cleaning man of the match, although he believed the honour ought to have gone to Ollie Skinner, who produced an exceptional display with his non-stop running.
Rye: Weller; Wilson, Willis, Fraser (Heffernan); Ball (Harris), Henham, Hurley (Foulkes), Skinner, Brain; Gould, Stevens.
Rye are without a fixture tomorrow (Saturday) as the club will be playing an active part in the Rye Christmas Festival.
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