Ballinamallard United won the crunch clash with bottom of the table Portadown 1-0 at Ferny Park on Friday night.
The result sees the Mallards move onto 18 points, 15 ahead of the Ports.
The home side had to play most of the game with 10 men but withstood all the pressure especially in the latter stages to clinch a vital win.
United keeper Cameron Crawford prevented Stephen Hughes from giving the visitors an early lead with a smart save and then at the other end Joshua McIlwaine failed to hit the target when in a good position.
With half an hour gone the Mallards suffered a blow when they were reduced to 10 men with Ross Taheny sent off for his challenge on Aaron Haire.
However, it was Ballinamallard who took the lead on 36 minutes when Ryan Mayse cut inside from the left and Philip Leckey rushed in to drive a low shot in off the right hand post.
That was to prove the difference between the sides as Portadown were unable to make the extra man count.
Cliftonville came from two goals down to earn a point in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw with Glenavon at Mourneview Park on Friday night.
In the end it will be Gary Hamilton's side who will feel they missed out on all three points after dominating the second half but they were unable to make their possession count.
Cliftonville almost took the lead when Stephen Garrett saw his shot pushed onto the post by home keeper Jonny Tuffey.
Two goals in four minutes put Glenavon in command.
The first came after a mistake by keeper Peter Burke with a poor clearance and Guy Bates rounded him to slot into the empty net on 12 minutes.
Andy McGrory made it 2-0 three minutes later when he gambled on a flick into the box and things for looking good for the Lurgan Blues.
The Reds were right back in it on 22 minutes when a delightful move cut the home defence open as Martin Donnelly crossed for David McDaid who drove the ball high into the net.
An entertaining first half was to end level at 2-2 when Stephen Garrett heading home a superb cross from James Knowles.
Glenavon enjoyed long spells of possession in the second half and went close but Guy Bates, Ciaran Martyn and Mark Patton but they could not find the net.
The Reds always looked dangerous on the counter but it was Glenavon with the final chance of the night with man of the match Bates just failing to get the final touch from Rhys Marshall’s delivery.
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